May 19, 2024 #1 Local News, Information and Event Source for the Century City/Westwood areas.

West Los Angeles VA Is Failing Both Veterans and Its Legal Obligations

by Robert RosebrockLos Angeles, the city of Angels, has long been known as a place where people come to watch their dreams come true. Sadly, for many it has become a city where they have watched their dreams die on the streets, literally.
It is utterly wrong that those who have served their country in the military now must sleep on concrete sidewalks. The ACLU of Southern California (ACLU/SC) is deeply committed to alleviating the plight of all homeless men and women in California, including those who have served their country in the armed services and now find themselves on the streets.
We have litigated many cases on behalf of homeless men and women; we have challenged the practices of the Los Angeles Police Department in enforcing laws criminalizing sleeping on the streets when there are insufficient shelter beds available and the practice of illegalby Robert Rosebrock stops and searches against homeless people in Los Angeles Skid Row.
Our veterans, who are heroes, have been victims of these practices and deservedly should have shelter they can call their own.
In addition, I have personally been working to protect the First Amendment rights of Robert Rosebrock, a 68 year-old veteran, who regularly demonstrates in front of the Veterans Administration in West Los Angeles, protesting its failure to use the land in the manner required by the 1888 deed of land to the United States government for a home for veterans.
The ACLU/SC supports the request for an investigation into whether the VA is failing to abide by the terms of the 1888 deed. That request was made by the Metabolic Studio, LLC, a direct charitable activity of the Annenberg Foundation. Certainly, leasing portions of the VA land to a rental car company to store its cars, and leasing other portions to a local private school for use as tennis courts appears flatly inconsistent with the terms of the charitable document.
The VA’s failure to abide by the terms of the charitable grant is not only inconsistent with the government’s legal obligation to abide by the restrictions imposed by the grantor as part of a charitable grant, but it also has enormous human costs.
According to the Los Angeles Homeless Authority (LAHSA) Commissioners 2009 Greater Los Angeles Homeless count, there are approximately 42,694 homeless people in the County of Los Angeles, excluding Long Beach and Glendale. Homeless veterans number about 6,540 or approximately 15% of the homeless population of the area, according to the same count.
A recent article in the Los Angeles Times stated “Los Angeles remains the nation’s homelessness capital.†See “Solving Homelessness Will Require Cooperation,†Los Angeles Times, November 9, 2010.
This crisis is a shameful reality. Indeed, the sight of homeless veterans sleeping on the sidewalks outside the VA land in West Los Angeles not only highlights the necessity of an immediate investigation of how the VA is using this land, but serves as a reminder of the plight of many veterans who have made great sacrifices for this country.
The ACLU/SC believes that requiring the VA to abide by the terms of the 1888 deed could be an important component in realizing Secretary Eric K. Shinseki’s vision of ending homelessness for veterans, at least in the Los Angeles area. Our veterans who sacrificed so much should not receive so little. Providing shelter is the very least our government can do for them.

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