Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today introduced the West Los Angeles VA Campus Improvement Act, a bill that would allow the West Los Angeles VA Campus to use proceeds from property leasing to build additional housing for homeless veterans. Under current Veterans Administration regulations, the West LA VA can only use lease proceeds for campus beautification. Representative Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) has introduced similar legislation in the House.
“For more than a decade, I’ve worked with my colleagues to make sure the West LA VA Campus lives up to its purpose of supporting veterans,” said Feinstein. “This commonsense bill builds on the campus’ efforts to expand supportive housing opportunities for homeless veterans. It’s a simple fix that will have an outsized effect on the community and I’m proud to introduce it.”
“As a veteran, I'm happy to work with Senator Feinstein on this important piece of legislation that will ensure veterans in Southern California have access to funds that they're entitled to,” said Lieu. “In recent years, we've made incredible strides towards improving the West LA VA's operations in service to our nation's heroes. Let's make this bill law, so the campus has the resources it needs to help local veterans.”
“Los Angeles has long been the epicenter of veteran homelessness and this legislation provides VA with additional much needed resources to build housing and provide supportive services for veterans,” said retired Admiral Mike Mullen who serves as a Board Member at Vets Advocacy, a non-profit dedicated to improving utilization of the West Los Angeles VA Campus. “The consistent leadership and support from Senator Feinstein and Congressman Lieu have been influential in transforming the vision of a veteran centric community at VA West LA into lasting and meaningful change for homeless veterans throughout the region.”
“We have the opportunity to do something special for our Veterans at the West Los Angeles VA,” said Steve Peck, CEO of US VETS and a member of the West Los Angeles Veterans Collective, the developer that was selected by the VA to build more than 1,200 housing units on the campus. “This legislation will provide the VA a dedicated funding source to offset the high costs of housing construction and the provision of supportive services for veterans in this community. Senator Feinstein and Congressman Lieu have been indispensable in the fight to address veteran homelessness in Los Angeles, and I am proud to offer our strong support for this effort.”
The legislation would:
- Authorize the VA to use any funds collected pursuant to leases, easements or other use-agreements at the West LA VA for the development of supportive housing and services on campus.
- Increase the time period for enhanced use leases on the campus from 75 to 99 years. Increasing the length of the leases would align with other leasing terms the VA has, and help reduce the financing costs for new housing.
In 2015, Feinstein, then-Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Representative Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) introduced the Veterans Care Agreement and West Los Angeles Leasing Act to restore the Department of Veterans Affairs’ 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 veterans’ services. The Veterans Care Agreement and West Los Angeles Leasing Act was signed into law in 2016 and facilitated 1,200 new units of homeless housing.
The West Los Angeles VA Campus Improvement Act amends the original bill to clarify that leasing proceeds may be used for the construction of additional housing.