Friday, August 1, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Homeless vets a huge, neglected problem

elias column sig

By
From page A13 | December 19, 2012 |

You didn’t hear a word about homeless veterans in President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech this past January and chances are you won’t hear anything from him about those vets next month, either, unless it’s a boilerplate homage for their contributions to American freedom.

But homeless veterans are a major national problem, and an even larger one in California, where an estimated 18,000 live on the streets of Los Angeles County alone, perhaps as many as 40,000 statewide.

And yet, hundreds of beds in veterans homes are empty today. It’s true those veterans homes, mostly run by the state Department of Veterans Affairs, are intended as both skilled nursing and assisted living facilities, not as homeless shelters. Nevertheless, it’s logical to wonder why those vacant beds can’t be pressed into service for veterans in desperate need of quarters.

There are also open questions about whether the largest and most valuable piece of real estate in this state intended solely for the use of veterans will ever be used to anything approaching its capacity – or whether much of it will be sold off as a momentary deficit-easing tactic.

More than 300 acres at the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Center are used far below their capacity, something that has drawn the eye of Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, who tried to insert a selloff into this year’s budget negotiations.

The draw for Cantor and others is that the mostly undeveloped VA land bounded by the Interstate 405 San Diego Freeway and busy Wilshire Boulevard, with multiple high-rises soaring upward nearby, could bring at least $5 billion.

This has long tempted a selloff, despite the terms of the original 1887 land donation by onetime Nevada Republican Sen. John P. Jones and his partner Arcadia B. de Baker, which required the land be used strictly “for the benefit of veterans.” Jones, a real estate developer and co-founder of the city of Santa Monica who made his fortune in silver mining, had Civil War veterans in mind, not knowing homelessness would be a major veterans’ problem 125 years later.

It is, and not even several new California Veterans Homes constructed over the past 10 years with a combination of federal funds and state bond money are helping much. As an example, only 87 of the 396 beds in the West Los Angeles CalVet home were occupied as of last month. Brand-new homes in Redding and Fresno, with 450 beds between them, were empty because state budget woes have prevented hiring any staff. No occupants are expected there until late this year at the earliest.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, himself a Vietnam veteran, and former Santa Monica Mayor Bobby Shriver, whose sister Maria was the state’s First Lady for seven years, several years ago identified three mostly derelict buildings at the West Los Angeles site that could be rehabilitated and used by homeless veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental and emotional ills. Only one of those buildings has seen any activity, with $50 million appropriated to fix it up, but no work yet done.

Rosendahl blasted Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman of Los Angeles County – the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee – in an interview. “They just have not done nearly enough either to save the VA land or to house needy veterans,” he said. “Someone needs to light a fire under them.”

Waxman, whose district includes the West Los Angeles site, calls veterans’ homelessness “a huge problem and terrible.” He acknowledges, “We have failed our veterans.” But he insisted in a telephone interview that “the real threat we face is selling the land to reduce debt and not using it to help veterans.”

He says a new law, which some veterans’ activists claim allows selling off the land, actually precludes ever selling it. “A lot of the veterans’ concerns are just inaccurate,” he said. “But I do share the worry about commercializing that land.”

Veterans’ activists also complain that few of their fellow former soldiers even know about the CalVet beds now languishing. “There’s been almost no marketing,” complains John Aaron of Pacific Palisades. Echoing Rosendahl, he added, “The politicians just have not done enough.”

Waxman says he’s “all for using the empty beds for homeless veterans. I will push the Department of Veterans Affairs to do it. We did get the VA to issue vouchers for veterans to use in the community and we were getting some into housing, but the VA has stopped issuing those recently. The gap is due to VA bureaucracy. We push and push, but they seem unable to move. It’s inexcusable that they’ve stopped issuing the vouchers.”

The bottom line: There really is no excuse when politicians say they’re trying to help veterans and then point fingers at others, while thousands of veterans keep living on California’s streets.

Thomas Elias is a California author. Reach him at tdelias@aol.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 4 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • AugustDecember 18, 2012 - 2:37 pm

    Homeless Veterans are everywhere Downtown; 99.99% of the homeless veterans DO NOT QUALIFY for VA's prison-like 12-Step & "Jesus Saves" funded shelters...thus they remain on the streets. Homeless Veterans want REAL HOUSING & JOBS, not prison-like shelters that disrespects them 24/7.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • VallejoanDecember 19, 2012 - 6:03 am

    August, would you please explain about "VA's prison-like 12-Step & "Jesus Saves" funded shelters?" I've never heard them described that way and am unsure what you mean. Thanks.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Ron MarletteDecember 19, 2012 - 8:23 am

    I read Toms editorial with a resounding "YES" in regards to the neglect of homeless Vets in our Country. It's a issue that needs more ink. However, here in Solano County, Mission Solano and the VA are addressing the situation that has resulted in an 80% success rate getting our vets into homes! Mission Solano currently is housing 40 Vets in its "Home for Homeless Veterans" building at it's Bridge to LIfe Center. If you would like to visit and encourage our heroes, that is a great place to do it. Blessings, Ron

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Cy NicalDecember 19, 2012 - 12:23 pm

    Fairfield Suisun Community Action Council also operates a homeless veteran's house in Dixon as well as offering other services to veterans. Often the problem with homelessness among veterans is the lack of care and programs before they become homeless.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

‘Boyhood’ mature on music, moments

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B1

 
Mr. Clean: Dennis Regan offers friendly jokes, with a bite

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

Gemstones shine at Solano County Fair

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Trifecta: ‘The Who’s Tommy’ third play in three months

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
 
Japan Summerfest returns this month

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Details limited after shooting leaves 1 with injuries

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
Highway 12 to close overnight in Jameson Canyon

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

Air district calls Spare the Air alert

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

 
Vallejo police arrest suspect in shooting death

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4 | Gallery

Fairfield man settles suit against Raley’s

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4

 
Solano Tea Party Patriots schedule meet

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Stabbing victim dies in Vacaville

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A5

 
Fairfield police log: July 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: July 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

As US job market strengthens, many don’t feel it

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Dow plunges as multiple worries vex investors

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Wisconsin Supreme Court upholds 2011 union law

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
A look at the impact of Wisconsin’s union law

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Union: California prison staff told to fake checks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Abbas seeks broad support for war crimes charges

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

US, UN announce deal on 72-hour Gaza cease-fire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Californians to see increase in health plan costs

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Appellate court overturns high-speed rail rulings

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Report: Secrecy enveloped Bay Bridge construction

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Yosemite wildfire weakened, evacuations to end

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Candidate goes homeless to show economic gap

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5 | Gallery

California ex-mayor sentenced in corruption case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
US warns against traveling to Ebola-hit countries

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

See-through mice reveal details of inner anatomy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
CIA spied on Senate, internal review finds

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Demoted worker shoots CEO, kills self in Chicago

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
NASA to test making rocket fuel ingredient on Mars

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Investigators reach Ukraine jet wreckage site

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
Congress races to finish VA, highway bills

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

.

Opinion

Nice guy becomes House majority leader

By Dan Walters | From Page: A11

 
Should union organizing be a civil right?

By Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis | From Page: A11

 
Editorial Cartoons: Aug. 1, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

To err is human – but not in print

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: A11

 
Why do so many Americans support Hamas

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 1 Comment

.

Living

Today in History for Aug. 1, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Aug. 1, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

My irregular monthly cycles were a symptom of cancer, not menopause

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

 
Horoscopes for Aug. 1, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Week in preview Aug. 1-7, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
‘Godfather of Makeup’ Dick Smith dead at 92

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Review: Boseman drips with charisma as James Brown

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Starz’ ‘Outlander’ brings novels to life vibrantly

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Dionne Warwick knows her way to San Jose

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Entertainment calendar Aug. 1, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

 
‘Sharknado 2′ whipped up storm of viewers, tweets

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
.

Sports

Chekwa taking reps with Raiders while Hayden sits

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Safety Bethea finding a groove with new 49ers team

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Expos fall short in 10-9 loss to Leghorns

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7

 
A’s deal Tommy Milone to Twins for Sam Fuld

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

A’s get Lester, Gomes from Red Sox for Cespedes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Commonwealth Games athlete convicted for assault on rival

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Lynch ends holdout, arrives at Seahawks camp

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Nick Watney leads PGA Barracuda Championship

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Rich get richer: Rays’ Price traded to Tigers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
Dumdumaya takes third in World Junior/Junior Olympic tourney

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B8

AP Source: Trump advances in Bills sale process

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Mudcats get 15-7 win in Auburn Classic

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B8

Phelps to compete in 4 events at US nationals

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Another decent start for Woods at Firestone

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

Ravens’ Rice: His actions ‘totally inexcusable’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Dustin Johnson takes leave of absence from golf

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Signups for Friday, Aug. 1, 2014

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B9

 
Derrick Brooks set standard for NFL linebackers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

.

Business

Daimler launches new version of tiny Smart car

By The Associated Press | From Page: C1

 
Panasonic, Tesla to build big US battery plant

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

SeaWorld, Southwest Airlines ending partnership

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Target taps outsider as CEO for needed shakeup

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Iliad of France makes surprise bid for T-Mobile US

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
In San Francisco real estate, $1M won’t buy much

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Facebook’s Internet.org expands in Zambia

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Debit overdraft fees often exceed cost of purchase

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

.

Obituaries

Clifford C. Hemler

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
.

Comics

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9