Friday, July 01, 2011

Little Yellow Ribbons

Back on June 10 I pointed out the horrifying fact that there are over 8,000 vets living on the streets in the Los Angeles, some of them sleeping next to the fence surrounding the Veteran's Administration facility in Westwood. That facility is a sprawling campus with several buildings not in use at all or leased to outside groups and companies.

Congress apparently got the message. Included in a Senate budget bill for the VA is an amendment which would at least start rolling back this shameful state of affairs. It provides funding for renovating and bringing up to code one of those vacant buildings for use as housing for the homeless vets.

It isn't much, but it's a start, and the first step towards housing the men and women who served.

The renovated Building 209 -- the first of three slated for conversion into housing units -- would have room for only a fraction of the thousands of chronically homeless vets in Los Angeles County. That's why some local advocates are pushing for the VA to move faster. Among other steps, that faction is supporting a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union that would force the VA to provide more permanent, supportive housing at the West Los Angeles campus.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein has promised to shepherd the bill through the Senate. With any luck, it will also make its way through the House, even given the Republicans current slash-and-burn tactics when it comes to social welfare programs. They surely wouldn't begrudge housing and treating veterans who have served their country well.

Or would they.

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