Instead of Watching them Decay, LA is Turning Rundown Motels into Housing for Homeless Veterans

la-homeless-vets-motelsBy Jay Syrmopoulos

A deal has been approved by the city of Los Angeles that will allow nonprofit and private developers to modify “nuisance” motels into apartment housing that will permanently house 500 homeless veterans.

City officials consider the development a major accomplishment in the drive to create large-scale housing for the estimated 2,700 homeless veterans in Los Angeles County. The plan calls for developers to purchase crime ridden, often run down motels from private owners in an effort to convert them into efficiency apartments, according to the Los Angeles Times.

It’s estimated that nationally between 529,000 and 840,000 veterans are homeless at some time during the year, and that on any given night, more than 300,000 veterans are living on the streets or in shelters in the U.S.

According to the report in the LA Times:

The city’s housing authority will issue vouchers funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which will cover residents’ rent and provide supportive services, including case management and counseling.

Further financing is expected to come from the state’s Proposition 41, which directed $600 million in bond money to fund housing for poor and homeless veterans.

The novel plan is expected to short-circuit the years of red tape and financing issues that often delay homeless housing developments and have the apartments ready to open by January, officials said. The vouchers are good for 15 years, and the deal is expected to enable landlords to turn a profit…

The city’s housing authority on Thursday awarded 400 rent vouchers to Shangri-La Construction, a unit of Shangri-La Industries, founded by Hollywood producer Steve Bing, and Step Up on Second, a nonprofit homeless housing agency. The team has 60 days to secure sites.

“Instead of allowing blighted properties to decay, let’s use them to make powerful change in our communities by giving our veterans the access to services and housing that they need and deserve,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a written statement.

The organization Volunteers of America, a nonprofit affordable housing group, has plans to develop 100 apartments at a motel near its existing project in North Hollywood.

“Nobody else is doing this around the country,” said Philip Mangano, the federal homelessness czar under President George W. Bush, who called the project a national model and said it revealed the effectiveness of partnering private capital with existing social service agencies to produce large-scale permanent homeless housing. “There are business people involved (in homeless housing) but not to this scale,” said Mangano

“What I like about the project is it’s immediate,” Volunteers of America President Bob Pratt told the LA Times. “Making these homes available for vets right now, that makes it unique.”

Jay Syrmpoulos writes for, where this article first appeared.

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3 Comments on "Instead of Watching them Decay, LA is Turning Rundown Motels into Housing for Homeless Veterans"

  1. cool….take a bunch of black mold, paint it over and move in the vets. I’m a Vietnam-era veteran and have been homeless. No thanks. Just let me get a quick shower with a bathroom, and I’m outta there within 30 minutes.

  2. Carnaptious | May 31, 2016 at 1:45 pm | Reply

    Well, my first comment got “moderated” several hours ago – so I’ll try again.

    This plan to renovate decaying buildings is no solution to the problems encountered by homeless vets. First, a few hundred rooms with beds – when there are thousands who need them – is a band aid solution, at best.

    Second, the VA has a piece of property in West LA that was bequeathed to veterans in perpetuity decades ago. Originally, the property was 600 acres, but various encroachments by the wealthy surrounding communities have reduced the property to less than 400 acres. The property includes buildings – the site functioned as a VA hospital for a while – which could be renovated for immediate use, and there is lots of room for more buildings. Trouble is, the wealthy communities surrounding the property don’t want veterans using the property owned by veterans. Those communities, Bel-Air, Brentwood, and Westwood/UCLA, are using the VA property for a school playground, a dog park, a baseball diamond, and storing the unsold inventory of a car dealership, among other things.

    There’s a lot more to this story. Robert Rosebrock, a veteran, has been writing about on-going corruption and malfeasance at the West LA VA property for years. Some of his articles can be found in local LA papers, and some of them can be read at Veterans Today website. Search on Robert Rosebrock to learn more.

    • I reckon the vets should ‘lock and load’ and show a few people what war looks like? It seems fighting for your country now is nothing special or to be respected?

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