Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congressman Ted Lieu (both D-Calif.) today applauded President Joe Biden for signing the West Los Angeles VA Campus Improvement Act into law. Feinstein and Lieu have long championed the West LA VA campus as a key resource to reduce veteran homelessness in Los Angeles.
The bill will allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to contribute land-use revenues generated at the West LA VA campus to the development of supportive housing and services for homeless veterans. Currently, the VA can only use lease proceeds for campus beautification.
The bill will also allow the VA to enter into longer-term leases on campus to help facilitate housing construction and reduce financing costs.
“With around 4,000 homeless veterans in LA, the city faces a huge challenge to find homes and resources for this at-risk population,” Senator Feinstein said. “Allowing funds that are generated on campus to build housing is a no-brainer. I’m proud to continue working with Congressman Lieu and others to turn the West LA VA campus into a model for the nation on how we can house and provide comprehensive services to as many homeless veterans as possible.”
“No one who served our country should ever go without housing,” Congressman Lieu said. “I’m proud that our bill to expand the West LA VA campus’s ability to provide housing for homeless veterans has been signed by the president. Our legislation contains a number of improvements, including a commonsense solution to ensure that VA lease revenue goes toward housing and other services for our veterans. I want to thank Senator Feinstein for her tireless efforts to help get this bill across the finish line. We will continue working with our Senate partners and others to ensure the West LA VA can best serve our nation’s heroes.”
Key provisions in the bill
- Authorizes the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to use funds collected from leases and other use-agreements on the West LA VA campus for the development of supportive housing and services on campus.
- Increases the time period for enhanced use leases on the campus from 75 to 99 years. Increasing the length of leases will help streamline the construction of 1,200 units of supportive housing on campus while reducing long-term costs.
Support for the bill
LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl: “Signing this bill into law is a giant step forward in meeting our obligation to veterans who have served and sacrificed so much for this country. The West LA VA Campus Improvement Act will help us to meet this important obligation by ensuring that VA lease revenue is directed to housing and services for our LA vets. Over the last 10 years, we have made great progress in housing veterans who are experiencing homelessness, but much more remains to be done, and the passage of this legislation will help us with the crucial work of continuing to reduce the number of vets who are homeless.”
Steve Peck, CEO of U.S.VETS, and a member of the team that will be constructing more than 1,450 housing units for homeless veterans on the West LA VA campus: “I want to thank Senator Feinstein and Representative Lieu for their commitment to Los Angeles veterans and determination to get this legislation enacted into law so quickly. The bill that President Biden signed into law today will help put a roof over the heads of veterans in need and promote their housing stability, long term health and recovery.”
Anthony Allman, Army veteran and executive director at Vets Advocacy, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit created to fulfill the promise of a veterans community at VA West Los Angeles: “This is a win for homeless veterans. The Improvement Act reinforces the clear intent of the West LA Leasing Act of 2016 and permits investing campus revenues in long overdue infrastructure projects, housing construction and services on campus. The ongoing commitment of Senator Feinstein and Representative Lieu to making sure VA is resourced to accomplish this mission deserves our highest praise.”
In 2015, Feinstein, Lieu and then-Senator Barbara Boxer introduced the Veterans Care Agreement and West Los Angeles Leasing Act to restore the VA’s leasing authority at the West Los Angeles Campus.
Leasing authority allowed the department to partner with nonprofits to build housing for homeless veterans and expand supportive services. The bill became law in 2016 and facilitated 1,200 new units of homeless housing.
The West Los Angeles VA Campus Improvement Act amends the original act to clarify that leasing proceeds may be used for the construction of additional housing.