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Veterans Affairs Vacant Buildings
The Department of Veterans Affairs is spending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars every year to maintain hundreds of buildings – most of them vacant – that have fallen into such a state of disrepair that many of them are considered health hazards, an investigation by FoxNews.com reveals.
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Crumbling Ceiling

Paint ripples off the walls and ceiling as faulty fixtures and rotting beams hang precariously inside this room in Building 51 at the Hines VA in Hines, Ill. VA spends $20,000 of your taxpayer dollars each year on maintenance fees for this building, which is also health hazard. But the tab to tear it down is steeper: $500,000. 

(FoxNews.com)

Caution Tape, Peeling Paint

Crumbling interior, peeling paint and falling ceilings inside Hines VA's Building 51 in Hines, Ill., are signs of structural instability. This building has been rotting away, vacant for more than 15 years. VA spends $20,000 every year on maintenance, but it would cost even more to tear the building down. Demolition costs are estimated at $500,000; hazardous materials removal would run $426,000. 

(FoxNews.com)

One Big Mess

Tangled wires, a light fixture hanging from a thread, cardboard boxes, heaps of trash and loads of miscellaneous junk—just some of what you'll find inside this part of Hines VA Building 51. In the rest of the facility you'll find asbestos, lead paint, mold and other health hazards -- all inside a building that sits smack in the middle of an active medical and hospital treatment center. 

(FoxNews.com)

Rusty Fan, Falling Ceiling

Inside Building 51 is a rusty wall fan and a ceiling that looks like it might come falling down at any moment. This building at Hines VA in Hines, Ill., has been vacant for more than 15 years.

(FoxNews.com)

Ten Feet of Murky, Smelly, Septic Water

Contaminated water floods this putrid-smelling basement in a 58,000-square-foot building at the Edward Hines Jr. VA in Hines, Illinois. It costs taxpayers $20,000 a year to maintain the building hosting this asbestos-filled cesspool—and the building's been vacant and rotting away for more than 15 years. Yet, it would cost even more to demolish: $500,000.  The removal of hazardous materials alone, including asbestos and lead paint, would cost $426,000. And all these health hazards are inside a building smack in the middle of an active veterans' medical and hospital treatment center. 

(FoxNews.com)

Guess What's Inside

This enormous 58,000-square-foot building at the Hines Veterans Affairs Medical Center outside of Chicago, Ill., appears stable from the outside — but you won't believe what's lurking inside...

(FoxNews.com)

Rising Tide

Just beyond that stable-looking facade you'll find this rising flood of septic, chemical-laden water nearing the basement ceiling inside Building 51 on the Hines VA complex in Hines, Ill. The building has been empty for more than 15 years — and, from the inside, it looks and smells like it, too.

(FoxNews.com)

The Depths of Hines

Beyond the rusty, peeling pipes, you'll find even more water inside Hines VA’s Building 51, which has been wasting away for more than 15 years. It's in such bad shape—and contains so much hazardous material that there's no hope of renovation. Demolition will cost $500,000. 

(FoxNews.com)

Water, Water, and More Water

The water piles up from floor to ceiling in the basement of Hines VA’s Building 51, which has been wasting away for more than 15 years and is costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

(FoxNews.com)

Massive Brick Building Looks OK on Outside

Building 13 at the Hines VA complex in Hines, Ill., used to be nurses’ quarters — back when it was built in 1929. Now, the VA is looking for contractors to refurbish this 23,000-square-foot building. Estimated cost: $5 million to $10 million.

(FoxNews.com)

Lights on, Nobody Home

This 1929 former nurses quarters is locked shut and hasn't been used in years, but the VA's still paying the electric bill. FoxNews.com found fluorescent lights left on inside the long hallways of Building 13 at the Edward Hines Jr. VA in Hines, Illinois. The three-story building will be gutted, cleared of hazardous materials -- including asbestos -- and turned into administrative offices and classrooms.  Procurement bids for this $5 million to $10 million construction project are still open. 

(FoxNews.com)

Empty Hall, Full Trash

This dusty, dimly-lighted hallway was found inside vacant Building 13 at Hines VA in Hines, Illinois. It has cost the VA thousands in maintenance. Plans to turn the building into classrooms and administrative offices will cost $5 million to $10 million.

(FoxNews.com)

Old Main

This 141-year-old Victorian Gothic building, dubbed “Old Main,” was home to recuperating veterans for more than a century, up until the 1970s. It’s part of the National Soldiers Home Historic District at the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center in Milwaukee, Wis. Some of the 25 historic buildings haven’t been used in decades, but the VA pays a cool $1.3 million annually to maintain them all. The VA spends $347,768 a year on "Old Main" alone.

(GAO)

Abandoned_Greenhouse_Marion_Indiana_2_test

This dilapidated greenhouse is one of nine buildings on the grounds of the VA Northern Indiana Health Care System in Marion, Indiana, that have been empty for more than ten years. The greenhouse — and 11 others — were supposed to be demolished back in 2001, but most of them are still standing and continue to rack up thousands in maintenance fees each year. VA has tried to rent out these properties through enhanced use lease agreements — but no one wanted them.

(GAO)

Mold_and_Asbestos

Signs of mold and asbestos on walls inside a vacant building at the Marion, Indiana campus of the VA Northern Indiana Healthcare System.

(GAO)

Vacant for Years, Not Used for Vets

This building, once used for psychiatric patients, hasn’t been used for medical services since 1999. VA leased buildings 4 and 5 (pictured) on the Sepulveda campus of the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System in California to a non-profit, which plans to build 147 temporary residential units. Veterans groups and politicians across the state are working to reverse the deal, which will cost taxpayers $48 million in 2010. The advocates want to use the long-vacant buildings for veterans medical services.  

Missing a Desk?

A building on the Sepulveda outpost of the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System appears to be used for office furniture storage. It hasn’t been used for veterans health care services since 1999. This building and another were leased out to a nonprofit in 2007—but the project's on hold while the nonprofit looks for funding. Since then,  VA's been paying $18,000 a year in security, maintenance and repairs. That doesn't include additional landscaping and exterior security costs. 

As Seen on TV

This unmanned reception area was once an outpatient psychiatric building on the Sepulveda campus of the VA Los Angeles Greater Healthcare System in California. Veterans say they need the building for crucial medical services, but it’s been empty since 1999.

No One Going to The Chapel

The Wadsworth Chapel on the sprawling West Los Angeles VA complex has remained unused for many years. This structure, built in 1900, is on the National Register of Historic Places, and the VA estimates that renovation would cost $14 million. The VA's turned to mothballing, a way to preserve historic buildings by closing them up to protect them while waiting to acquire the funding needed to fully renovate the properties. It's structurally unstable and filled with hazardous materials.

 

(GAO)

$1 Million Trolley Depot

This 1890 trolley depot on the West Los Angeles campus of VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System is on the National Register of Historic Places. The VA's estimated cost of refurbishing this vacant 600-square-foot depot: a cool $1 million. 

(FoxNews.com)

Is that a Ghost?

If you look closely, you'll see a large doll's head peering out from behind the cloudy windows — a sign of asbestos — of vacant Building 7 at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, Ga. VA spends $2,000 a year on this structure, which has been vacant since 1991.  Now it's home to at least one other doll, a family of birds and their nest, old spare tires, and other miscellaneous and discarded junk.  

(FoxNews.com)

Broken Gutter

A gutter is hanging by a thread from the roof of Building 7, a one-story, 13,000-square-foot former nursing home facility built in 1923 at the Charlie Norwood VAMC in Augusta, Georgia. It has been completely unused since 1991, when the buildings' occupants were relocated to a newer building on the VA campus. VA pays $2,000 a year on maintenance for this building, which will be renovated and turned into a 20-unit transitional housing facility. 

(FoxNews.com)

Peeling Paint and Ivy

This is the outside of Building 7 at Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, Georgia. The paint’s peeling off the exterior walls of this 13,000-square-foot building that's been vacant since 1991. Property assessors found dangerous mold, asbestos, lead paint, barrels of unidentified toxic chemicals, 500 square feet of fungal growth and a slew of spare tires inside when they checked out the site. VA says it spends no more than $2,000 a year on maintenance. 

(FoxNews.com)

Ivy Grows

Ivy covers the outside walls of Building 7 at Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, Georgia. Floor-to-ceiling fungal growth, toxic, dangerous chemicals, dangerous fiberglass insulation, asbestos, lead paint and mold are among the many treasures that can be found inside. 

(FoxNews.com)

Boarded Up Windows

The windows of Building 7 have been boarded up for years, but the VA is still shelling out big bucks to maintain it. Vacated in 1991, VA spends $2,000 a year on this former nursing home built in 1923. This property at Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center is slated to be turned into a 20-unit transitional housing facility. 

(FoxNews.com)

Peeling Paint

Exterior walls are peeling away on Building 7 at Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, Georgia. The VA is in the process of leasing out this 13,000-square-foot building on 7 acres of land so it can be turned into a 20-unit transitional housing facility. But for now, the building is filled with asbestos, lead-based paint and 1,500 square feet of fungal growth on the walls. VA pays $2,000 a year on maintenance. 

(FoxNews.com)

Dusty, Scratched-up Windows

If you could see through the dusty, moldy, scratched-up windows of the 71,000 square foot Building 76 of the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, Ga., you would see an empty, junk-filled building. Built in 1944, the former inpatient building that also stored maintenance chemicals now costs VA at least $10,000 a year on maintenance every year — and it's been empty for at least six years and hasn't been fully occupied for at least a decade. Inside: 15,000 square feet of dry wall covered in fungal growth; a leaking roof; indoor ground water; fiberglass insulation; signs of asbestos and lead paint contamination; 300 gallons of maintenance-related chemicals and antiseptic cleaners. 

(FoxNews.com)

Growing Ivy, Peeling Paint

Paint peels off the walls while ivy grows unchecked on the outside of Building 76 at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, Ga. This building is boarded shut and has been for years. VA spends $10,000 a year on this boarded shut 71,000 square foot structure that was built in 1944. Property inspectors recently found lead based paint, fiberglass insulation, and signs of asbestos inside — as well as 300 gallons of hazardous chemicals and antiseptic cleaners. VA is expected to sign a lease agreement with an outside non-profit to turn this property into a housing facility.

(FoxNews.com)

A Historic but Rotting Beauty

This white three-story, 71,000-square-foot building on the grounds of the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, Ga., has been completely empty since the engineering shops were moved out in 2003 or 2004.  It hasn't been fully used for at least a decade. Plans were approved two years ago to lease out the building to a non-profit that would turn it into 50 one-bedroom units for permanent supportive housing for veterans and their families. VA expects to have the lease signed later this year. VA pays $10,000 a year on maintenance. 

(FoxNews.com)

Restricted Access

Signs declaring "Restricted Access" and "Warning" are found on every door of Building 76 at Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, Georgia — and for good reason. Inside this 71,000-square-foot vacant building you'll find a whole lot of toxic chemicals and signs of asbestos, among other hazards. The building will be repurposed into 50 one-bedroom units for permanent supportive housing. 

(FoxNews.com)

Massive Vacant Building

This unmarked building at Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, Georgia, has been unused for about 20 years, according to local officials and veterans groups. It's unclear what this massive structure used to house, but one thing's certain: it's not being used right now. 

(FoxNews.com)

More Boarded Up Windows

The windows of an unmarked building are boarded up at Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, Georgia. The building’s been vacant for about 20 years.

(FoxNews.com)

Furniture Storage

Damaged furniture, as well as unused supplies, are strewn around the room of this enormous historic and unmarked building near the entrance of the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, Georgia. This building’s been empty for more than 20 years.

(FoxNews.com)

Southern Sprawl

This sprawling unmarked historic building at the entrance of the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, Georgia., has been unoccupied for about 20 years, locals say. The VA has shelled out thousands of dollars each year to maintain this historic building, as well as others on the campus.

(FoxNews.com)

Restricted Access

Signs declaring "Restricted Access" and "Warning" are found on the doors of an unmarked building at Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, Georgia.

(FoxNews.com)

Peeling Chimney

Here’s a peeling chimney on an unmarked building at Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, Georgia. It’s been unoccupied for about 20 years.

(FoxNews.com)

This Old House

This former residence on the grounds of the Dayton VA Medical Center in Ohio is one of many that have been unoccupied for many years, costing thousands of dollars of VA appropriations to maintain. This building is on the National Register of Historic Places and VA officials want to turn the building into a museum, but renovations were deemed too costly.

(GAO)

Monkeys Lived Here. Really.

Once upon a time this pink, octagonal, 325-square-foot structure was used to house monkeys for the zoo on the grounds of the Dayton VA Medical Center in Ohio. The animals have long gone, but the VA is still paying to keep up the maintenance on this 1870 historic monkey house.

(GAO)

Crumbling_Interior_of_Dayton_Ohio_Building_test

This room inside a building at the Dayton VA Medical Center in Ohio shows wear and tear caused by years of being out of use, but it still costs the VA maintenance fees.

(GAO)

Grist Mill

This 1737 grist mill at the Perry Point VA Medical Center in Maryland has been boarded up and unoccupied for years. The 3,600-square-foot structure is, among others on site, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

(GAO)

Monkeys Lived Here. Really.

Once upon a time this pink, octagonal, 325-square-foot structure was used to house monkeys for the zoo on the grounds of the Dayton VA Medical Center in Ohio. The animals have long gone, but the VA is still paying to keep up the maintenance on this 1870 historic monkey house.

(GAO)

Crumbling_Interior_of_Dayton_Ohio_Building_test

This room inside a building at the Dayton VA Medical Center in Ohio shows wear and tear caused by years of being out of use, but it still costs the VA maintenance fees.

(GAO)

Grist Mill

This 1737 grist mill at the Perry Point VA Medical Center in Maryland has been boarded up and unoccupied for years. The 3,600-square-foot structure is, among others on site, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

(GAO)

Veterans Affairs Vacant Buildings

The Department of Veterans Affairs is spending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars every year to maintain hundreds of buildings – most of them vacant – that have fallen into such a state of disrepair that many of them are considered health hazards, an investigation by FoxNews.com reveals.

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