By Marcie Polier Swartz
Founder, CEO, Village for Vets
The nonprofit agency Safe Parking LA will launch a pilot program for homeless veterans at the VAGLAHS Campus starting Wednesday April 18. People living in their vehicles will be assigned a place to park overnight and will be provided with access to bathrooms, showers, social services and eventually housing. “This proves that the volunteers serving on neighborhood councils have the ability to go beyond playing an advisory role and can actually organize to take action and make a direct impact on what happens here in our communities” said Dr. Scott Sale, the founder of Safe Parking LA.
Village for Vets will be partnering with Meals on Wheels to provide meals and snacks for the homeless Veterans. This will be a continuation of the Homeless Meals Program at the VA which currently provides 50 meals a day to the homeless Vets who visit the campus daily.
The approvals for this program dramatically sped up after Congressman Lieu’s Roundtable Meeting on February 26. Janet Turner, Sr. Field Rep and Constituent Services was our host at the Belmont Village Westwood. The room was full of representation from Westside community groups. The VA Leadership gently and carefully outlined their support for this program not knowing what reaction they might get from the crowd in the room but I could feel the excitement. I suggested we form a Task Force to spearhead funding and any additional approvals, and almost everyone in the room volunteered showing how much pent up desire there is on the part of the community to support Veterans and the VA and to have a real effect on lowering homelessness.
The following is a list of the groups that volunteered for the committee that night: Westside Homeless Veterans Task Force; Venice Homeless Committee, WLA Neighborhood Council, Pacific Palisades Community Council; Westside Regional Alliance of Councils; Citizens Veterans Engagement Board; Brentwood Village Chamber of Commerce, Village for Vets; and many individuals and relatives of individuals in the room that night. No one was going to let this great opportunity go unfunded.
Now Veterans who are experiencing homelessness will have an opportunity to sleep safely in their vehicles on the West L.A. campus. They will have access to the supportive services necessary to complete their transition into permanent housing. “Partnerships like this help to further our mission of providing a ‘no wrong door’ approach. Not only can our Veterans who are sleeping in their cars feel secure at night, but Safe Parking on the West LA campus facilitates access to wrap around supportive services, bringing us one step closer to ending Veteran homelessness” said Heidi Marston, Director of Community Engagement and Reintegration at VAGLAHS. This arrangement will start small with approximately 10 parking spaces but will grow as demand increases
Join us by visiting Village for Vets at https://villageforvets.org/donate.html. Your donations will allow us to reach our goal of providing hot meals for our nation’s homeless Veterans. Commit to partnering with the VA to create a 21st Century, state-of-the-art home for our Veterans. For more information on Safe Parking L.A. visit their website: https://www.safeparkingla.org/.