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VA Schedules Bids for Homeless Housing:

The effort to provide additional housing for homeless veterans at the West Los Angeles VA facility took another step forward on Wednesday evening, November 19, as VA authorities held a public meeting to detail their plans and announce a schedule for the rehabilitation of the first of three buildings that were dedicated to housing the homeless a year ago.

Ralph Tillman, Chief of Asset Management at the facility, said that the VA would issue a formal solicitation for homeless service providers to submit offers to manage Building 209 on December 8, with responsive offers due February 9, 2009, and a contract award expected in or about April, 2009. He said that the VA had determined that there were a sufficient number of providers to bid on the 50-year contract to make the bidding competitive.

Santa Monica City Councilman Bobby Shriver, who was instrumental in obtaining the VA commitment to dedicate the three buildings to housing homeless veterans, asked when the second and third buildings would become available. Tillman said that the VA regarded Building 209 as “a pilot project,” with Building 205 to be let out for bid in a “reasonably short period of time,” but he would not be more specific.

The contract specifications call for approximately 50 single-occupancy housing units, said Tillman, and he estimated that the contractor would face $11 million of basic building rehabilitation before “tenant improvements” for the project. No estimate was given as to when the building would be available for occupancy.

Shriver, who was the only elected official at the meeting, stressed the urgency of providing the housing inasmuch as there are 80,000 homeless on any given night in Los Angeles County, a substantial number of whom are veterans. Flora Gil Krisiloff of Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s office inquired as to how residents of the building would be referred to the program, and Jon Sherin, VA Associate Chief of Psychiatry, said that he expected tenants would be referred from other programs at the VA.

Ray Klein of the Brentwood Community Council asked how the program to be housed in Building 209 would deal with veterans who failed to adhere to the clean and sober policy of the VA, and Chief of Community Care Bill Daniels said that there were a “network of agencies” suited to each person’s needs and that we “don’t give up on anybody.”

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