At our Thanksgiving dinner 2019 we had about 20 vets there -with their spouses and children there were over 70 people there. When you help one vet you’re helping a lot more people than just the veteran.
Several weeks ago, the Hawthorne City Council unanimously accepted a motion to donate a city-owned parcel to a qualified developer with experience in veteran housing to build 18 units specifically for veterans.
Some of you may not know it but I’m a city councilman in Hawthorne. After the 2018 election, there was a vacancy in the City Council when Nilo Michelin, fellow councilmember, ran and won a seat on the El Camino College Board. The mayor asked me if I would consider the appointment, and I said that I would. After a unanimous vote, I became a politician overnight. It’s an honor to both be asked and to serve the people of Hawthorne, and with my background of working with vets, I was very pleased and supportive of this project, and I look forward to seeing it to fruition.
Now, imagine if this project is successful: finding a happy medium in terms of density by creating a project that may in fact have a little extra room for green space, where a person can sit and maybe smell some roses, but most importantly to build a model that other cities may follow.
Everyone talks about helping vets, homeless vet, vets with young families, etc., but how many vets have we seen with a HUD-VASH certificate–basically section 8 for veterans—who are unable to find adequate housing? Especially considering that a HUD-VASH certificate has a time limit: you only have a few months to find a place, otherwise the certificate expires.
Landlords, in general, are not crazy about section 8 of any kind. Therefore, the number of available units to a stressed vet looking for a place to live are limited. What would take a lot of pressure off the homeless vet situation would be projects like the one Hawthorne is embarking on.
Imagine that this project succeeds, which we certainly hope it will. There are more than 200 cities in southern California, with a total population of more than 24 million, and it has one of the largest veteran populations in the country. Imagine if this idea takes root and other cities see the value of creating smaller projects for veterans. This could help the veteran housing crisis in many ways.
It is easier to manage smaller projects than bigger ones, and they can succeed much faster. Cities that own land and can make it available for projects such as this can really claim that they’re interested in helping those who give us our freedom, interested in a tangible way by making caring for our veterans a community issue rather than a federal issue. We need the federal government to care for our vets, but as communities we can do better. Hawthorne just took a step in that direction, and I for one am very proud of our city.
The U.S. Census estimates that in 2017, there were 264,635 U.S. military veterans living in Los Angeles County alone.
We have to ask yourselves: what is our way of life worth, and who is most responsible for maintaining that quality? We should always honor those who have sacrificed for us and ask ourselves, and our politicos, are we doing the best that we can to help them?