By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A mini tent city outside the Veterans Affairs building on the Westside is serving as a transitional place for homeless veterans.

The former service members have fallen on hard times and hope to one day be back in a home of their own.

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Tents inside and outside the VA along San Vicente Boulevard proudly hang the American flag, housing men and women who are proud to be veterans.

“I wanted something different to get out of the streets when I was a kid in high school,” said veteran Warren Miller.

Miller joined the army in 1973 and he still displays his fatigues, but the home that they hang in has changed over the years.

He has been homeless for more years than he can remember. Today, he is living on the lawn of the VA.

He first moved into a tent in the area nine months ago and now has one of three coveted structures in the Care Treatment Rehabilitation Service Program that started during the pandemic.

“We were given some emergency authority to allow the veterans to come here and camp here on site,” said Community Engagement and Reintegration Service Chief Matthew McGahran.

It’s become a mini tent city, but with so much more.

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“They’re able to get meals, they’re able to get showers and kind of engage in the case management,” said VA Program Director Chanin Santini.

Santini says the point is to get veterans in the gates and then hopefully somewhere permanent.

“They like the no rules in the sense that there’s no curfew here,” Santini said. “There’s a case management they have to follow and as long as they meet with the case manager they can stay here.”

Currently, there are 47 veterans living here on the great lawn of the West Los Angeles VA but they’ve had about 500 pass through in the last 18 months.

“It’s a nice place, the staff is nice,” Miller said. “They’re concerned about you. They help you move along until you get your goal place.”

Right now it’s estimated that 40,000 veterans are homeless nationwide and ten percent of them are in L.A.

“We have served over 15,000 veterans in the last year,” McGahran said.

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The VA is hoping to transition away from tents and into tiny structures.