The Daily Press is pleased with the House of Representatives for finally realizing that money needs to be spent on rehabbing the West Los Angeles VA campus, particularly Building 209, which has been identified as a future home for chronically homeless veterans.
Rep. Henry Waxman, one of the highest-ranking Democrats in Congress and Santa Monica’s man on the Hill, pushed through a bill that authorizes $35.5 million for seismic corrections and renovations at the VA, with $20 million going to Building 209. This is essentially money that was set aside in President Obama’s 2012 budget; money from unspent construction funds previously authorized by Congress.
Not only is it the humane thing to do, it’s also required under the Grant of Deed of 1888 that called for creating a home at the West L.A. VA to permanently maintain a health care community for veterans. It’s sickening to see homeless heroes on Santa Monica’s streets while the VA inks lucrative deals with private entities to lease land at the sprawling West L.A. campus.
The federal government’s lack of urgency to house homeless vets and the VA’s rental agreements are what led the ACLU and Santa Monica City Councilman Bobby Shriver, among others, to file a lawsuit against the VA, accusing them of misusing the 390-acre plot of land.
While the House’s move was a good step toward resolving that lawsuit and helping those veterans in need of housing, counseling and other services, it is just one step in a process that has lingered on for decades. Waxman and his colleagues in the Senate — Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein — cannot sit back and pat themselves on the back or issue another empty press release about how they’re fighting for veterans. They must be aggressive, pressuring the Senate to approve the expenditure and not let the homeless vets become pawns in a political shell game where there are no winners.
The Daily Press will be watching our representatives in Washington to make sure this latest event isn’t just another publicity stunt to fool people into believing that progress is being made, when in reality we are still in the same position today as we were last week — no permanent home on the VA campus for the chronically homeless. Come on folks, show some leadership and get this done. We’re tired of hearing the lame excuse that the wheels of the democracy move slowly. Those wheels can move pretty quickly come election day.