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Greater LA VA houses 1,790 homeless Veterans in 2023

In greater Los Angeles, VA permanently housed 1,790 homeless Veterans in 2023, the most of any VA in America. This was a 38% increase over last year’s total of 1,301 and 19% above Greater Los Angeles VA’s 2023 goal of putting 1,500 heroes into homes.

One of the Veterans who was housed in L.A. in 2023 was Marine Corps Veteran Al Landfair, a former resident at Care, Treatment and Rehabilitative Services (CTRS). It’s a first-of-its-kind emergency shelter program at West Los Angeles VA where roughly 140 homeless Veterans live in individual climate-controlled shelters.

A former barracks guard and mortarman who served with the most highly decorated battalion in the Marine Corps (2nd Battalion 5th Marines), Landfair became a professional truck driver after leaving the military. When a diagnosis of end-stage non-alcoholic fatty liver disease forced him into retirement, he fell on hard times.

After coming to Los Angeles where he had family nearby, Landfair (pictured above) lived at CTRS for several months as he worked with VA to access housing. In December 2023, he signed a lease on a two-bedroom apartment of his own in Inglewood, California.

“The people at VA are here to help you and guide you with all of the resources you need. I’m so excited that I get to be independent again,” Landfair said.

A home for every Veteran

Housing Landfair and other Veterans like him has been a primary focus for LA VA. Recent numbers show Veteran homelessness nationwide increased by 7.4% since 2022 due in large part to a lack of affordable housing and the end of COVID-era eviction protections.  

“I’m so excited to be independent again.”

Despite these challenges, significant progress has still been made toward ending Veteran homelessness. Since 2010, the number of Veterans experiencing homelessness in the United States has declined by more than 52%.

“Making this goal means the lives of 1,790 Veterans have been profoundly changed,” said Deputy Medical Center Director John Kuhn. “In addition to the Veterans lifted out of the trauma and degradation of homelessness, Veterans’ partners and children who may have been part of that household also now have homes.”

Exceeding this goal has not come easily, said Kuhn, adding that Los Angeles is one of the nation’s most expensive housing markets and has a woefully inadequate supply of affordable housing.

“Many unhoused Veterans have significant health and mental health issues, and contend with discrimination and other challenges to secure housing. But steadfast VA and federal leadership have provided the resources necessary to address these challenges. With this continued support, and the dedication of VA staff and community partners, we will succeed in helping all unhoused Veterans find a place to call home,” Kuhn said.

LA VA also exceeded its two other goals related to Veteran homelessness: Maintaining a housing retention rate above 90% and engaging with at least 1,888 unsheltered Veterans. The 2023 housing retention rate was 97.5%, and LA VA engaged with 2,184 unsheltered Veterans.

Working as “One Team”

Leadership attributes much of the year’s success to the One Team approach, a pioneering initiative created by Kuhn in 2023 with the goal of seamlessly integrating VA and its community partners to get Veterans into housing as quickly as possible.

In June 2023, LA VA brought representatives from partner organizations and front-line workers together in person to inaugurate One Team. The results were “electric” in the words of Sally R. Hammitt, chief of Community Engagement and Reintegration Service, with participants eager to bring their talents to the table in the fight to end Veteran homelessness.

Since then, VA and its partners have worked to implement enhanced tracking, streamline care plans, have more frequent case conferencing and improve bridging between programs, among other endeavors. This collaborative effort has reduced duplicated service and allowed the team to serve more Veterans, said Hammitt.

“As One Team, we are committed to place Veterans in the center of our work. I am excited for every Veteran who is now housed and grateful for all the Veterans who trusted us on their housing journey,” Kuhn said.

Finding a home through HUD-VASH

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) program houses formerly homeless Veterans by combining federal housing vouchers with VA case management and supportive services.

For Landfair, who is in the process of looking for a liver donor, a two-bedroom apartment was considered a reasonable accommodation so he could have a live-in caregiver to help with his recovery.

“After I received my HUD-VASH voucher, the next morning my peer support, Gary Steward, called me and asked me if I’d like to go look at an apartment. I said sure.” Landfair liked the unit and went on to sign a lease.

Exceeding goals and housing Veterans

Nationally, VA housed more than 46,000 Veterans in 2023, engaged with over 40,000 homeless Veterans, ensured that 95.9% of Veterans remained in housing and worked to rehouse 96.4% of Veterans who returned to homelessness. Landfair has positive things to say about the services he’s received through VA and advises other Veterans to take advantage of what they’ve earned. “I’ve had a great experience. I did my service and they’re paying me back and I just love all of them for that,” he said.

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