Military Life Veterans

West Los Angeles VA starts work on new veteran housing

Two new buildings, adding 87 new housing units for vets, are part of a wider 1,200-unit project.
Nicholas Slayton Avatar
(image courtesy KFA Architecture)

Two housing projects set aside for veterans officially got underway at the end of May. On May 31 two separate buildings that would add 87 new housing units on the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs campus broke ground, part of a wider plan to add more than 1,000 new homes for veterans.

The two new buildings are being built by a coalition of developers and veteran-focused nonprofits. One, Building 158, will add 49 new units, being built by Century Housing. The other, Building 210 from U.S. Vets, will create 38 housing units specifically for women veterans. Renderings from architecture firms show a pair of low-rise structures with plazas, walkways and plenty of trees around them. Both are being built on the West LA VA North Campus, on an 80-acre parcel of land that, if the plan is realized, would create the largest amount of veteran housing in the nation. 

The Department of Veterans Affairs is currently trying to build 1,200 new housing units on that part of the wider 400-acre space that it operates. The completion date is set for 2030, with an  estimated total budget of $1.4 billion. The West LA VA campus has been criticized for the slow rate of construction. A little more than 230 of the apartments are occupied, while more than 500 are under some stage of construction. 

The effort to fill these units has been plagued by delays. Last year, local news organizations found that despite having finished apartments ready for veterans, only a few dozen were occupied, with officials citing issues with final approvals or wait time for housing payments. Meanwhile the VA has been hit with lawsuits over the use of the campus for housing — specifically by groups calling for thousands more veterans to be housed there. The VA has pushed back against the calls, 

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For several years a large homeless encampment, dubbed “Veterans Row,” had existed just outside of the VA’s campus in Los Angeles. That was cleared in 2021, with many of those people moving into “tiny home” shelters set up on space inside the campus. Unhoused and veteran advocates have pushed for more permanent housing to be built on the VA’s land, given the space and mission of the department. 

Los Angeles County has one of the highest concentrations of unhoused Americans in the country, with 71,320 unhoused people. 3.878 of those people are veterans, according to the 2023 point-in-time homeless count (data has not been released yet for the 2024 count, conducted at the start of the year. As with overall homelessness, the main cause is the rising cost of housing. While federal and local agencies, along with nonprofits, have succeeded in housing hundreds of veterans, many more fall into experiencing homelessness, leading to the net rise.

The plan for the large VA campus is to not only provide housing, but wraparound services such as mental healthcare and career programs designed to help veterans avoid falling back into homelessness. 

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