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VA officials may not have met ambitious goal to house 650 local vets in April

Officials with the Department of Veterans Affairs said they've met 12 of 13 promises to improve services for vets in Los Angeles, but it's not clear if they fulfilled their biggest one: an ambitious goal to house 650 vets in April.

Vince Kane, Special Assistant to the VA secretary, said he’s still waiting on data from social workers to find out if they’ve made it. He said that could take another 30 to 45 days.

Many of the 13 goals officials said they would meet by Monday involved setting up contracts, holding monthly meetings and providing progress reports. One of the promises involved increasing funding for a homelessness prevention program.

The promises came in February, a month after the agency settled a lawsuit with veterans who claimed the agency had improperly leased land on the campus to outside interests. The land was deeded to the VA by a local family with the express intention that it be used to house vets.

The larger context is a goal by the Obama Administration to end veteran homelessness by the end of the year.

It's a tough goal, particularly in Los Angeles, which has the largest population of homeless vets in the country.

A census of homeless completed in January found 4,016 of them were veterans, a number that is practically unchanged from the hand count two years ago.

Gary Blasi, who sued the VA on behalf of homeless veterans regarding the West LA leases, is skeptical that the VA can get the number down to zero by 2016.

“At the current rates, that’s not going to happen," he said.

Veterans and Military Issues Reporter
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