VA Acknowledges 'Breach of Trust' Over West LA Campus

May 16, 2015

The VA apologizes for misusing real estate in West Los Angeles. Instead of using all the land to serve veterans, the VA leases some of it to a television studio, a laundry business, and UCLA.

At a town hall meeting in West Los Angeles Thursday night, officials with the Department of Veterans Affairs apologized for misusing land meant to house veterans - and promised they were on track to end leases with commercial interests and bring back crumbling housing.

“There was a breach of trust," said Vince Kane, a Special Assistant to the V.A. Secretary. He said his job is to fix the problems at the West LA campus.

The 388-acre campus of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in West Los Angeles was donated to the federal government more than 100 years ago for use as a home for disabled veterans, but is no longer used for that purpose. In 2007, Building 209, pictured here, was designated as a place to house disabled homeless vets. It is currently abandoned.
Credit Nancy Pastor for NPR.

When veterans had their turn at the microphone, some were angry.

“I’m just as homeless as I was at the last town hall meeting,” said one woman.

Changes haven’t come quickly enough for Carolina Barrie, either. Her great grand-aunt, Arcadia Bandini de Baker, donated the original 300 acres of what had been a ranch to the West L.A. campus of the VA to the government in 1888 to serve veterans.

“It was a home. It was a beautiful home,” she said. “The property had been neglected since the Vietnam War. And it’s our family’s duty and our wish to restore it to a home, for veterans.”

Kane said that’ll take time.