Housing Plan Gets Boost
By Jorge Casuso
August 8 – A long-delayed plan to house homeless
veterans on the Veterans Administration grounds in Westwood got
a major boost this week when federal officials extended the sharing
agreement with a potential service provider to 55 years.
Federal officials also said Monday that they would extend the deadline
to August 15 for providers who wish to express an interest in the
first of the three buildings.
Increasing the terms of the agreement from 40 to 55 years will
“enable people to get tax financing credit to get it done,”
said Council member Bobby Shriver.”They’re now financiable.
“It’s the real deal,” said Shriver, who spearheaded
the effort to designate the buildings to house and provide services
for mentally ill homeless veterans. “I hope some of the heat
we put on them (federal officials) has borne fruit.”
Shriver, who pulled papers to run for reelection last week, has
strongly criticized a process he says has been tangled for years
in bureaucratic red tape.
It wasn’t until last month, nearly for years after he started
lobbying the government to set aside the buildings, that VA officials
announced they would “be proceeding in a phased approach.”
An expression of interest was issued last month seeking service
providers to take over the first of the three buildings, but it
covered a 20-year-term with a 20-year option and required the provider
to bring the building up to code.
If the 55-year term draws interested parties, a sharing agreement
for the first of the three buildings could be in place by the beginning
of next year, officials said.
Two of the buildings have been empty for years and one is currently
being used to house and serve veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan
wars, officials said, saying the current occupants can be moved
to another facility on site.
Shriver said he is angry that not a single homeless veteran has
been housed, but added that he is hopeful the new terms will finally
result in a contract.
“It’s still late, and it’s still going to take
a lot of work, but now it’s financiable,” he said.