To meet L.A. veteran housing goals, governments go into action mode

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After decades of neglect of L.A.’s homeless veterans, federal, state and local officials are pulling together to try to get them off the street by the end of the year.

In a groundbreaking legal settlement, U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald in January promised to open the agency’s long-contested West Los Angeles campus to homeless housing as part of a broader campaign to end the county’s long, dubious reign as the nation’s homeless-veteran capital.

At City Hall, Mayor Eric Garcetti has pledged to ensure that every veteran in Los Angeles has a place to live by 2016. And in February, housing officials in Sacramento released the first $75 million of a $600-million bond issue, authorized by California voters through Proposition 41 in 2014, to fund housing for low-income and homeless veterans.

The multi-governmental efforts dovetail with the Obama administration’s vow to end veteran homelessness nationwide this year. Reaching the finish line in Los Angeles will be tough: The county counted 4,200 homeless veterans during 2013’s official tabulation, more than twice the number in New York City. Some of these veterans have lived outdoors for years.

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