Monday, October 19, 2009

Homeless: Born 1912, homeless and begging on streets of LA 2009 - Bessie Mae Berger's story

The sign on the window of the old black Suburban says it all.

"I am 97 years old. Homeless. Broke. Need help please."

Bessie Mae Berger is 97 and homeless. She has outlived three husbands and all but two of her children and now spends her nights in a black Suburban SUV on the streets of Los Angeles.

Bessie Mae Berger was born in 1912. The Los Angeles Times tells of her hard life: losing all but two of her children, either to death or to simply losing touch, and outliving three husbands.

She used to live in Palm Springs, Calif. Her son Larry Wilkerson cared for her full-time through a state program, a job he held for more than 20 years.

Then the owner of their home had to sell. The state cut Larry and his mother from the support program, the newspaper reported.

Together with Berger's other son Charlie Wilkerson -- who collects disability -- they've tried desperately to find a government-subsidized home. But they've been stymied because mother and sons insist on staying together.

"There's a million empty homes here in California, but they can't seem to find one we can live in," Larry told the paper. At least in the Suburban, she's not alone.

Occasionally Bessie Mae Berger begs for money. People accuse her of lying about her age, but she has a state-issued ID card with her birth date.

This week they happened to meet comedian Kevin Nealon at a gas station, who was with the owner of a popular club, the Laugh Factory. The club owner gave them pizza for dinner.

But no one seems to be able to give them a home.

Published by i On Global Trends - Mike Hitchen Online - news, opinion, analysis
See also Sydney Irresistible
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