The Billets in Echo Park, California (Google Maps)
For six years, dozens of homeless veterans have recovered from trauma in nine cottages along a winding residential road in Echo Park. The Billets — military jargon for civilian quarters — has been a model.
The 72-bed program places as much as 70% of its chronically homeless veterans — male and female — in permanent housing, according to Volunteers of America, which operates the program. It's based in a tranquil, leafy and gentrifying neighborhood of families and young professionals a short walk from a doughnut shop, a grocery store and multiple bus lines.
But on Monday, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is closing the Billets for good.
A formation of U.S. Army soldiers with III Corps and Fort Hood honor the American flag as they lower it during the Retreat ceremony March 27, 2014. Retreat is conducted at the end of the day, every day, to honor the flag, which is raised during the Reveille ceremony each morning. All activity on the base stops for the duration of both ceremonies as soldiers pause, face the flag, and salute. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Ken Scar, 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment) (Photo Credit: Sgt. Ken Scar)
Soldiers and their spouses told Fort Hood brass and housing officials Thursday night about horrific conditions inside on-post housing, ranging from blooms of mold and lead paint to infestations of snakes and cockroaches and dangerously faulty window screens.