Federal Judge Harry Pregerson, a fiercely committed advocate for the homeless – especially veterans – formed a group of influential veterans in Los Angeles in 1992 to confront the vexing problem of homelessness among those who served their country. At the time, some 28,000 veterans lived on the streets of the nation’s second largest city.
The efforts of U.S.VETS and other groups have driven that number down. But Judge Pregerson, a former Marine who was severely wounded on Okinawa during WWII, made it clear in his remarks, which drew a standing ovation, that he wasn’t satisfied.
“There are now about 6,200 homeless veterans in Los Angeles,” he said, “so we’re not done yet.”
In what the organization plans as an annual award, the Judge Harry Pregerson Public Service Award was given to Rep. Maxine Waters for her efforts to help veterans.
“Judge Pregerson and Congresswoman Waters are warriors in the fight to eliminate homelessness among veterans,” says Stephen Peck, president and CEO of U.S.VETS. “It was our honor to call attention to their compassion and energy at this event.”
In fact, it was in the congresswoman’s Los Angeles County district near LAX that Judge Pregerson pointed to a building and said, “I want that building for homeless vets, “referring to the group’s first site.
Over the next year he brought together the people who could make it so, and that building became the Westside Residence Hall, U.S.VETS’ first site. In May of 1993 five Vietnam veterans moved in. The site now houses more than 550 vets.
This event was made possible through the support of our sponsors:
[column col=”1/2″]Platinum Sponsors
California Community Foundation
Marci & Tom Holliday
Herbert A. Lampert
Joseph A. Czyzyk
Don Knabe, Supervisor, Fourth District, County of Los Angeles
Resnick Family Foundation, Inc.
John Stanford, Jr.
The Home Depot Foundation
1st Marine Division Association
Charles Dunn Company
Disabled Veterans Charities
Mona and Bob Ehrenreich
Jackson Lewis LLP
Technology Management Solutions – TMS
USC School of Social Work