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A Fire, LA’s Veteran Homelessness Crisis, And A Plan To Rebuild 

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Manuel Bernal, president of East LA Community Corporation, stands in front of what remains of the Nuevo Amanecer complex. (Robert Garrova/LAist )
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In September, a fire destroyed the 70% complete Nuevo Amanecer apartment complex at the intersection of 1st Street and Rowan Avenue in East Los Angeles. It would have provided desperately-needed low-income housing, including 30 units for veterans.

“Four years worth of work just burned down in a matter of hours,” said Manuel Bernal, president of the East LA Community Corporation, a nonprofit affordable housing developer.

The Nuevo Amanecer project wouldn’t have solved L.A.’s veteran homelessness crisis, but every unit is precious here. L.A. County’s latest count tallied about 3,900 unhoused veterans.

That number is basically unchanged from last year, even though this population has seen bumps in federal, state and local financial support over the past 10 years. In an expensive real estate market, advocates say the money doesn’t go as far, and in a city this big it’s hard to reach veterans in need.

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“There’s a tremendous need for service-enriched housing for unhoused veterans," Bernal said. “It totally changes lives.”

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