When VA Secretary McDonough visited Los Angeles in October, he challenged local leaders with the goal to house 500 Veterans who were experiencing homelessness by the end of the year. Ensuring that all Veterans have a safe, secure place to live is a top VA priority. In Los Angeles, there are more homeless Veterans than anywhere else in the United States.
Thanks to the hard work of the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System (VAGLAHS) staff and its community partners, hundreds of Veterans are now off the street. By connecting with individual Veterans and working closely with each of them to determine their needs, the goal set by the Secretary was achieved.
705 Veterans housed through variety of programs
Between October 1 and December 31, 2021, VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System housed 705 Veterans. Of those, 590 were in Los Angeles County. This was accomplished through a variety of temporary, transitional and permanent housing programs. Veterans also enrolled in supportive programs that help with the transition to permanent housing.
“We know the issue of Veteran homelessness is complex,” said Matthew McGahran, chief, Community Engagement and Reintegration Service. “There is not a one-size-fits-all solution for every Veteran. We have to learn what each of their wants and needs are. We work with each individual to identify the right program that sets them on the path to becoming permanently housed.”
For some Veterans, the solution may be direct placement in an apartment or home of their own. For others it may mean addressing health or substance use issues or job training while in temporary housing to assist with income stability.
“We are here for homeless Veterans.”
“VA stands with each Veteran along their journey to health and permanent housing,” McGahran added. “Even if the journey is not easy nor a straight line. We want each Veteran experiencing homelessness to know we are here for them.”
About 45% of the 705 Veterans placed have been housed in permanent housing. Permanent housing includes HUD-VASH vouchers, housing with financial assistance provided through Supportive Services for Veterans Families (grants to private non-profit organizations and consumer cooperatives), and regular leases.
The remaining 55% of the 705 were placed in transitional or temporary housing. Transitional housing provides Veterans with services that help them work on psychosocial or economic issues for up to two years. VA’s primary transitional housing program is the Grant and Per Diem program (VA funding for community-based agencies providing transitional housing).
The remaining Veterans were housed in the mental health residential rehabilitation center on the West Los Angeles VA campus – the Domiciliary – which provides residential treatment to Veterans. Others were housed in Health Care for Homeless Veterans contract housing, which provides short-term housing and supportive services.
There are about 30 Grant and Per Diem transitional housing programs across the Greater Los Angeles VA service area.
Breaking barriers to streamline the process
Reaching the goal took several entities coming together. They tackled barriers that exist between organizations any time multiple agencies and entities are involved.
“I’m incredibly proud of our VA staff,” said Dr. Steven Braverman, Greater Los Angeles VA director. “Everyone came together to rise to this challenge: our dedicated VA social workers and housing specialists, partners at city, county, and state public housing authorities and SSVF grantees. This also included non-profits and service agencies, property managers, and programmatic partners. The team continues to identify and break through barriers in an attempt to better streamline the process to make the move from homelessness to housed smoother for Veterans. We are excited that this challenge has borne out best practices that can be implemented nationwide.”
VA Greater Los Angeles’ focus on Veteran homelessness in Los Angeles will add momentum to VA’s ongoing work to address Veteran homelessness across the country.
Here’s more information on VA Homeless Programs.