Opinion | Ted Lieu on Homelessness for South Brentwood Residents Association
I am honored to represent the best congressional district in the nation: California’s 33rd district. I’m endlessly proud of our community, but I recognize the challenges we face around homelessness. That’s why I’ve made it a priority to improve housing conditions, address homelessness, and support homeless veterans in our district since I was first elected to Congress. There’s still a lot of work to be done.
Addressing homelessness needs to be one of the top priorities of every local, state and federal official. To combat the crisis on a federal level, we’re working on bipartisan efforts to increase funding to ensure communities like ours have the resources needed to address the root causes of homelessness. I am working with Senator Feinstein, Senator Murkowski and Rep. Stivers on the “Fighting Homelessness Through Services and Housing Act,” which supports holistic efforts to address homelessness by providing grants to local governments around the country. These grants would not only provide housing, but also comprehensive services like substance abuse treatment and mental health care.
On a more local level, we remain focused on tackling veteran homelessness through improvements at the West LA VA campus. Working with the VA Secretary, veterans and community leaders, we passed the West LA VA Master Plan, which will improve housing, job training and mental health services for homeless veterans. I am pleased that Buildings 205 and 208 are breaking ground in April, and Building 207 will start construction in the Fall. These buildings will provide 180-200 units of permanent supportive housing for homeless veterans.
While the ongoing implementation of the Master Plan is critical to ensuring protections and services for veterans, there is always more to be done. Currently, I am working with our partners to plug legislative loopholes and ensure the West LA VA gets to keep revenue that should rightfully be theirs. The bottom line is this – when I returned home from serving on active duty in the United States Air Force, I was welcomed with food on the table and a roof over my head. Veterans who risk their lives in service of this country should never have to go without these basic comforts.
While we are working to reduce veteran homelessness, I am also fighting for more federal resources to address all homelessness statewide. In addition to the bill with Senator Feinstein, I am also working on legislation to prevent homelessness. Modeled on a VA program, the goal of our legislation will be to stabilize housing and prevent evictions and foreclosures for low-income individuals and is intended to help people that are at immediate risk of homelessness. It is more efficient and humane to prevent homelessness before it starts rather than wait until a family is in desperate need of assistance.
Homelessness is a significant challenge in our community, but one we can combat with smart policy and compassionate advocacy. I will continue to fight for federal resources to help LA’s homeless population get back on their feet so that we can give everyone in our community the chance to reach their full potential.