“When I walked into this building,” the Army veteran said, “it was like one of those movies when you walk through a cloud and you’re like: ‘Whoa! Wow!’ Everything was state of the art, brand new.”
That was Keith Hudson’s reaction when he looked inside his new home at the Veteran Affairs campus in West Los Angeles. Before that, the fifty-two-year-old was living on the streets, homeless for years, mired in depression and alcoholism.
What appears to be a five-star hotel with all the amenities, to Hudson, is the product of a decade-long effort of community leaders to convert Building 209 and two other underused structures on the campus for housing.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the renovated buildings feature a soaring atrium entrance, a fitness room, a large kitchen where vets can learn culinary skills, communal sitting areas, Wi-Fi and 55 single-and double-occupancy units that will house 65 veterans.
Some of the luckier vets may end up with one of the upper floor units, which enjoy ocean views. Twenty of the homeless vets are women, who will live in a secure wing with an exit to a “serenity garden.”
Homeless veterans are on the rise in Los Angeles, growing by 6% over the last two years. The county has long had the largest concentration of homeless veterans in the country — 4,343 in the most recent count. The Times reported in May that two-thirds of them, or 2,733, live in the city.
The facility administrators hope to provide effective job training to help launch the veterans into permanent jobs and permanent housing off of the campus. While they are living on campus, they will be compensated for the work they do. Right now Hudson is a housekeeper in the WLA VA hospital, but he hopes to pursue his old career as a paralegal.