Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Santa Monica, reached out to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs earlier this week regarding the status of development plans for the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center.
In a letter addressed to Secretary Eric Shinseki, Waxman wrote that the VA’s 2011 Master Plan, adopted to expand veteran health programs via renovations to the campus, is far from complete.
“I believe a detailed blueprint of the Master Plan, including time frames, funding streams, and uses of vacant buildings, and putting into place short, mid, and long-term priorities would provide the West L.A. VA with a roadmap for making the best uses of the campus for direct veteran services in the future,” Waxman wrote.
Currently, the plan only outlines potential projects for campus expansion.
The letter comes after a July 2013 request from Shinseki that Waxman amend legislation currently prohibiting the sale or disposal of West L.A. V.A. land. Such an amendment would allow the VA to enter a public-private partnership to finance the renovation of two buildings for long-term veteran homeless housing.
“While a change in the law would address the immediate need to develop Buildings 205 and 208, this effort highlights the long-term need to develop a comprehensive plan for services at the West LA V.A.,” Waxman wrote.
In line with the current plan, the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System began renovations to Building 209 in January 2013. This project is projected for completion in spring 2014 and will convert 55 units into therapeutic residencies for homeless veterans. Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority identified 6,248 such individuals living in Los Angeles County.
“Ideally, the West L.A. VA campus should offer veterans easy access to a comprehensive set of services that support their physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, social and financial well-being,” Waxman wrote.
The VA declined to respond to the letter or offer an update on development plans.