In March 1888, Senator John P. Jones and Arcadia B. DeBaker donated, by deed, approximately 300 acres of land in Los Angeles, California, to the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers to establish a home for disabled veterans. Two additional deeds were added later to expand the WLA campus to its current size of 387 acres.
In June 2011, a class action lawsuit, Valentini vs. Shinseki, was filed against VA in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The plaintiffs included veterans suffering from mental health disorders and other injuries who, as a result, were homeless; Vietnam Veterans of America; and a descendent from the family that donated the land. The plaintiffs asked the Court to find, in part, that VA had breached and continued to breach its fiduciary duty as trustee by allowing the WLA campus to be used for purposes other than for disabled veterans.
What We Found
Finding 1: Inappropriate Use of WLA Campus
The OIG reviewed 40 land use agreements on the WLA campus and determined that 11 did not comply with either the WLA Leasing Act, other applicable federal laws, or the DMP. Furthermore, 14 non-VA entities were operating on the WLA campus with an expired agreement or no documented land use agreement. The OIG determined that these key factors played a role in why 25 of 40 of the land use agreements (63 percent) on the WLA campus were improper:
· Veteran input on WLA land use was insufficient.
· VA policies lacked clarity on appropriate use of Out Leases and Revocable Licenses.
· Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System (GLAHS) Capital Asset Inventory land use
agreement records were incomplete.
Finding 2: VA is Behind on Draft Master Plan Implementation Milestones
Although WLA is making progress to implement the DMP, it will not meet its initial milestone to provide 490 permanent supportive housing units within 30 months of the passage of the WLA Leasing Act on September 29, 2016. To meet its stated objective of providing approximately 1,200 permanent supportive housing units on campus by 2026, VA is taking a phased approach.