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Garcetti: LA will miss target of ending veteran homelessness by 2016

Mayor Eric Garcetti and First Lady Michelle Obama at a June 2014 event where Garcetti pledged to end homelessness among military veterans by the end of 2015.
Mayor Eric Garcetti and First Lady Michelle Obama at a June 2014 event where Garcetti pledged to end homelessness among military veterans by the end of 2015.
City of Los Angeles

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Mayor Eric Garcetti's office said Monday Los Angeles will miss its goal of ending veteran homelessness by the end of the year. He blamed the recent rise in the city's homeless population — veteran and non-veteran alike.

Spokesperson Connie Llanos said that the city of Los Angeles has gotten 3,733 homeless veterans into permanent housing since January 2014.

"More than any other city in the country over the same time frame," she said. "That is more than cities like Salt Lake City, New Orleans, Phoenix and Houston combined."

That's enough, she said, to put the city on track to meet the Obama administration's challenge to local governments to get all their homeless veterans off the streets. 

But at the same time, the city saw a surge in new homeless veterans, leaving 3,798 currently on the streets countywide, according to the most recent estimate by the United Way, which is coordinating the effort. 

Llanos said the reason for the rise is unclear.

Officials in L.A. have also found that the federal Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing vouchers provided to veterans to find housing in Los Angeles sometimes aren't worth enough to cover high rents in the area. Currently, there are about 700 veterans with vouchers looking for a place to use them. 

While mayors in cities like New Orleans have recently declared victory in the fight against veteran homelessness, that city had 227 vets to house. Llanos noted that L.A., which has the largest population of homeless veterans in the country, is dealing with a much tougher problem. 

She said the city should be able to bring the veteran homeless population to "functional zero" by next summer — meaning all known homeless veterans will be housed, and a safety net will exist to catch any new veterans from falling into homelessness.