Since there is a lack of housing that is affordable in Los Angeles County, veteran homelessness has been a big concern. However, according to National Public Radio, a report, on June 1st, of the annual point-in-time homeless count indicated that veteran homelessness population had declined by 18 percent.
According to Heidi Marston, the director of Community Engagement and Reintegration at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, “This year’s point-in-time count and the decrease really spoke to the hard work that was being done.” This year’s count showed a decline in homelessness from last year, which was not as high as originally recorded; there still was a significant improvement this year.
There are now fewer veterans out on the street. Two of the reasons that support this change are actions taken by Los Angeles that include:
- 90-day emergency housing
- Safe Parking L.A.
The 90-day emergency housing plan helps veterans, such as PTSD suffering Air Force combat vet Christopher Underwood; he was facing homelessness but now has a place to stay at the U.S. Vets facility in Inglewood.
Safe Parking L.A.
Other vets choose to stay in their car in a neighborhood of other veterans. The VA has partnered recently with a nonprofit organization, Safe Parking L.A., to create 10 parking spaces for homeless vets. They have access to a portable bathroom and wash stations. One requirement is that they leave in the morning. People like Robert Louis, a 63-year-old Marine veteran, and his wife Gail are very thankful that they have their car and a spot to park it. He also has others, neighbors, with whom to share stories and helpful information.
Outreach workers for U.S. Vets, such as Jesse Henderson, canvass areas seeking homeless vets in order to provide them with bottles of water, hygiene items, gift cards and cigarettes. He carries items in a camouflage backpack as he roams such streets as Hollywood Boulevard; this is the area that the tourists do not frequent, as it is set up with low slung tents. He tries to provide the vets that he meets with information on supporting resources, including transitional housing.
With parking spaces for vets as well as temporary housing, the city now has fewer vets on the streets.