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97-year-old L.A. homeless woman gets a home

October 19, 2009 |  7:05 pm
Bessie, 97 and homeless

A 97-year-old homeless woman who was living with her two sons in a battered 1973 Chevrolet Suburban in Venice has received a temporary home, compliments of a nonprofit Los Angeles housing group.

Bessie Mae Berger and sons Larry Wilkerson, 60, and Charlie Wilkerson, 62, had parked nightly on Venice Boulevard after losing their home in Palm Springs and failing to find a place to stay in Northern California.

But a Times story Friday that detailed her plight prompted authorities from the city, the county and the state to step up efforts to assist the trio and led the Integrated Recovery Network to offer them immediate shelter. 

The three are now staying at the California Villa Retirement Hotel in Van Nuys, Charlie Wilkerson said today. “We can make arrangements for the first three months,” said Marsha Temple, the recovery network’s executive director.

She said her group will also work to obtain additional long-term benefits for the three. The recovery network is funded by Kaiser Permanente, the Corp. for Supportive Housing and private donations and can provide placements for those who fall through the cracks for governmental services, she said.

-- Bob Pool

Photo: Bessie Mae Berger sleeps in the front seat of the 1973 Chevolet Suburban. Among the items on the dashboard: lottery tickets. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

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