February 4, 2014 - Issue: Vol. 160, No. 21 — Daily Edition113th Congress (2013 - 2014) - 2nd Session
STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS; Congressional Record Vol. 160, No. 21
(Senate - February 04, 2014)
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[Page S765] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS By Mrs. FEINSTEIN: S. 1987. A bill to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to enter into enhanced-use leases for certain buildings of the Department of Veterans Affairs at the West Los Angeles Medical Center, California, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs. Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, today I am introducing a bill that would provide critical authority to the Department of Veterans Affairs to use enhanced-use leases to engage in public-private partnerships in order to provide supportive housing for homeless veterans at the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Campus in California. Homelessness is a tragedy, and I am deeply concerned that it plagues many of our Nation's brave and honorable veterans. I would like to make you aware, that Los Angeles has the largest concentration of homeless veterans in the United States, currently estimated to be 6,300. What is even more unacceptable is that two buildings on the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Campus that can potentially provide supportive housing for a portion of these veterans are currently vacant due to a lack of Federal funding. There is good news, though. The community of Los Angeles has expressed great interest in leveraging private resources and forging a partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs to make progress in using these facilities to provide housing and hope for homeless veterans in the area. However, giving this authority to the Secretary of Veteran Affairs requires legislative action, and so I am happy to present to you today the solution that is required. You should be aware that the solution I am proposing is a finely crafted fix to a previous action Congress took in 2007 to safeguard the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Campus. I moved in 2007 to prohibit the ability of the Department of Veterans Affairs to lease or sale any property on the West Los Angeles Campus, due to concerns that these authorities would likely be abused at the detriment to Los Angeles' veterans. Specifically, broad authorities were being used for commercial development displacing prop on the West Los Angeles Veteran Affairs Department, and risked reducing or eliminating the important services this campus provides to veterans. Today is a new day, and my bill will allow a very tightly limited authority to enter into enhanced-use leases at two specific vacant buildings on the campus to be used for the sole purpose of providing supportive housing for veterans who are homeless. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this modification of lease authority in order to make real progress using private dollars to deliver on our promise to California's veterans who have bravely served in the defense of the entire United States. I look forward to working with my colleagues on enacting this authority as soon as feasible. ____________________