We see them everyday, haunting busy intersections and freeway off ramps. They gaze into our cars, hoping for a handout or even just eye contact–some small show of acknowledgment. Many of them hold weathered, cardboard signs proclaiming their status: Homeless Veteran.
Los Angeles has the highest concentration of homeless vets in the country: about 20,000 according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. That could be slightly eased, though, if a proposal to renovate Buildings 4 and 5 on the Veterans Affairs campus in the valley is successful.
The department is considering plans to transform the buildings, damaged in the 1994 Northridge quake and most recently used for film shoots, into permanent housing for homeless vets. If the plan is approved and the long-term lease signed, the project will also include social services and counseling.
“To have 20,000 homeless vets and have these buildings used for movie shoots, we need to reprioritize about what we are doing in this country,” said Toni Reinis, executive director of New Directions, the nonprofit group that would run the facility.
Still, the proposed $40 million makeover faces some uncertainty. New Directions must raise the money for it, though Ms. Reinis said it was already lining up potential sources, and it faces objections from the congressman who represents the area, Representative Brad Sherman, a Democrat, as well as some people living nearby.