The Veterans Collective creates housing, sense of community, aided by Wells Fargo

Just a few months ago, Bill McGaughy lived alone in a van, spending what income he had on food. Now, he lives in an apartment, eating healthy, affordable meals in a community of previously homeless veterans like himself.

McGaughy, who served as a Navy jet mechanic, is among the first veterans living on the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs North campus, which is expected to become the largest veterans housing development in the U.S. The campus spans more than 70 acres and is being developed as a permanent supportive housing community that could eventually house as many as half of Los Angeles County’s homeless veterans.

“Close to 4,000 veterans in our city don’t have a proper home on any given night. This is a tragedy,” said Brian D’Andrea, senior vice president of housing for Century Housing, which along with two other organizations has formed The Veterans Collective, the entity behind the 10-year master plan for the campus.

Together with Thomas Safran & Associates and U.S.VETS, Century Housing plans to develop 1,694 housing units. The nonprofit’s mission is to support the successful transition of military veterans and their families by providing housing, counseling, career development and comprehensive support.

Widespread support

Wells Fargo has financed a total of 365 units for homeless and formerly homeless veterans by providing over $140 million in construction financing and $110 million in low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) equity. Additionally, the Wells Fargo Foundation has provided a $2 million grant to support the campus’ economic mobility programs through the building of the project’s Career Development Center. The center will break ground in early 2024 and will be a dedicated space for individualized career support and financial coaching aimed at wealth building and greater housing stability.

“Wells Fargo has a longtime commitment to creating greater housing access and affordability,” said Greg Sherkin, Wells Fargo’s Philanthropy & Community Impact Manager for California, “Beyond our support for The Veterans Collective, we recently awarded $1 million to 10 organizations addressing housing in Los Angeles. We aim to be the bank of doing, acting on needs we see in the community.”

From Vietnam to the streets of L.A.

After his Navy service, McGaughy was a homeowner and pursued careers in photography and construction. But when he dissolved his businesses and retired, he moved onto a boat and later a van for more than a decade because he could not find affordable housing. “I was living on Social Security,” he said.

Now that he has a home, McGaughy is getting new photography equipment so he can keep doing what he loves. “Rather than being stagnant, I’m learning new things,” he said.

McGaughy lives in a unit designed for senior veterans. Each apartment has a kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. There is also a community gathering space with amenities such as a widescreen TV and pool table. The Veterans Collective is building additional homes for veterans and their families. It is also developing a therapeutic community on the campus as well.

Helping more veterans

The Veterans Collective is collaborating with the Veterans Affairs Administration and community partners to provide support services for residents and the larger veterans community. Services include case management, career services and counseling, health and wellness programs, such as physical therapy, and supportive services.

“Fortunately, we have the resources and ingredients we need to address the housing needs of our nation’s heroes on this amazing piece of real estate,” D’Andrea said. “That passion for serving our veterans motivates us.”

To learn more about how Wells Fargo is supporting the communities it serves, visit

Jim Molis is a freelance writer with The Business Journals Content Studio


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