Sacramento, CA – Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry issued the following statement in response to the California State Auditor’s Report on the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) and Department of General Services (DGS) mismanagement of State Veterans Home Properties:
I am deeply troubled by the results of the audit detailing the mismanagement of the state’s Veterans Home properties. I can only speak for the Yountville Home in my 4th Assembly District, but I have consistently expressed my concerns about the management of the home and conditions for veterans. The findings in the report that DGS and CalVet did NOT assure lease revenue generated on Veterans Home properties were returned back to the Homes is shocking. The conditions at the Yountville Home MUST be improved after years of underinvestment and deferred maintenance.
The planning and construction of the Skilled Nursing Facility included in last year’s budget will improve care for the residents and other veterans in Northern California, but this audit confirms that vital resources intended to benefit veterans have been wasted or diverted.
I am working with Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks), Chair of the Assembly Veterans Committee, to ensure necessary reforms are implemented and legislation is passed to fix our laws and protect our veterans. It is critical that we continue legislative oversight and return any misappropriated revenues to the Veterans Homes where they belong.
There are two issues to which our local leaders and policymakers must pay careful attention. First, every use of property at the home must benefit the veterans. However, there is an important distinction between exploitative property uses and judicious shared use of the Veterans Home. Any suggestion that community events in general do not benefit veterans ignores the community’s historic support for the veterans and charitable activities that benefit them. About one-third of Yountville’s total population resides at the Veterans Home. We want to integrate veterans into our lives, not isolate them.
Second, any suggestion that employee housing at the home must be “market rate” ignores the critical need for affordable housing in Napa County. There is a mutual benefit to both the veterans and the employees when there is staff housing available on-campus. While rental rates should reflect what is appropriate for working families, and benefits should not be given inappropriately, consideration should be given to the well-being of the employees at the home and to facilitation of their ability to care for the residents.
I stand ready to work with the new Administration to address the issues identified in the Auditor’s report, and finally work to restore conditions at the Yountville Home to make life better for those who’ve risked their lives to defend our nation.
You can view the Auditor’s report here.
Aguiar-Curry represents the 4th Assembly District, which includes all of Lake and Napa Counties, parts of Colusa, Solano and Sonoma Counties, and all of Yolo County except West Sacramento.