By Debbie Gregory.
You would think that $5-million would go a long way to end veteran homelessness in Los Angeles. But despite the funding, a program to get homeless veterans off the streets has only helped 268 veterans over an 18 month period, according to a recent Los Angeles County grand jury report.
In Los Angeles, veterans comprise a little over 3% of the general population, but make up about 11% of the homeless population. Transition from military to civilian life, sometimes complicated by service related disabilities, may make it difficult for veterans to find housing.
Homes for Heroes, a county program funded by the federal government, provides interim shelter to veterans and pays for move-in costs and minor repairs for landlords who agree to rent to ex-service members. But the grand jury’s report expressed concern about Homes for Heroes’ administrative costs. And the report also found that in the 18 months from January 2016 to June 2017, the program helped more property owners (363) than it did veterans.
Phil Ansell, the director of L.A. County’s homeless initiative said the grand jury’s information was out of date, and that further progress has been made, although “more certainly remains to be done,” he said.
While Southern California has made progress over the years, the area continues to lead the nation in veteran homelessness, with 4,800 living on streets and riverbed, according to the report.
Mayor Eric Garcetti had made a pledge to end veteran homelessness a signature of his administration.
Another impediment is that much of the housing that accepts veteran rent vouchers is for men only. This leaves their family members and female veterans to find shelter elsewhere.
However, Los Angeles is making progress in cutting into veteran homelessness, said Nan Roman, president of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, a Washington nonprofit.
“It cut unsheltered homelessness 43% and veteran homelessness overall 41% in a year, which is unheard of,” she said.