(Senate - February 04, 2014)

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[Page S765]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


      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.