In January, nonprofit developers A Community of Friends will start work on turning two empty medical buildings at the Sepulveda Veterans Affairs campus in North Hills into 149 studio apartments for veterans and support staff. The $48 million complex at Lassen Street and Woodley Avenue will be developed under a 75 year lease paid for primarily by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. The units are intended for some of the 20,000 homeless veterans currently living in Southern California, and would also include health, wellness, and job training services. The project has faced a long history of controversy and local political opposition--both Sherman Oaks Congressman Brad Sherman and City Councilmember Mitch Englander oppose the project. As Sherman told the Daily News today: "I still oppose the project because there was no competitive bidding, and they appear to have breached their lease."
Sherman's beef with the development goes way back. Back in 2004, Sherman accused the VA of holding a public hearing without proper notice. In 2007, the US Department of Veterans Affairs refused to give copies of the 75 year lease to the public. According to the DN, it took years of Freedom Of Information Act requests for anyone to get a look. And finally, last week, neither the VA, nor the Los Angeles-based nonprofit contractors would discuss the housing project.
Englander thinks the housing won't serve enough veterans: "My opinion is, this is veterans' land. This is holy land. The best case would be to serve as many veterans as possible, like in a medical facility...The VA has done nothing to bring additional medical facilities to local veterans." Englander is also concerned that neither the VA nor the developers have approached the city about mitigating traffic.Image via the Daily News
· Sepulveda VA housing advances despite opposition [Daily News]