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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Down and Not so Out in Beverly Hills

Recently, Associated Press Writer, Christina Hoag reported that being homeless in Beverly Hills, California is not exactly like living on the street in other places. Consider that there are handouts of $2,000 and bottles of Dom Perignon, lucky finds of Gucci shoes and diamond-encrusted bracelets, a chance to rub shoulders with rich and famous locals such as Mark Wahlberg and Master P, even empty houses to live in.

"This is the finest place you can be," said Isaac Young, an affable 59-year-old with a wide grin and a smooth baritone voice who has been homeless in Beverly Hills since 1992.

In this manicured community of 35,000, Rolls Royces and Lamborghinis glide around city streets, movie stars live in gated mansions and Rodeo Drive price tags provoke gasps from tourists.

But the city also features about 30 rather scruffy residents who live in parks, bus shelters and alleyways. However, they are a stark contrast to some 74,000 Los Angeles-based homeless people living on the streets or in shelters, making the county the nation's capital of homelessness.

The homeless in Beverly Hills have direct access to something most street dwellers do not: rich people, who can afford to be pretty generous. They pull up in Porsches and SUVs offering trays of cooked food, designer clothing still in dry-cleaner plastic and odd jobs.

Sometimes life even imitates the 1986 movie "Down and Out in Beverly Hills," in which a homeless man (Nick Nolte) is taken in by a hoity-toity couple (Richard Dreyfuss and Bette Midler).

One homeless man George, he discovered being close to wealth can lead to $100 handouts, or finds such as gold jewelry, video cameras and an Armani suit. He was so thrilled with the suit that he wore it panhandling until he noticed he wasn't doing too well. "You have to have a certain look to get sympathy — dirty, kind of stupid, not aware," he said. Because the homeless understand that the rich will not put up with nonsense in order to get a decent handout, one man quipped, “we have learned to be high class bums.”
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myamazingjourney said...

I am a homeless single parent of 3.Every day is very hard. But I sale jewelry that I make to pay for a cheap motel, food, clothes. It takes every ounce of energy, and emotional strength to survive. I am not lazy and do not feel sorry for myself. I know that things are going to be ok. God gives me and my children strength. It was refreshing to know that some people have it easier. And face it, a good amount of homeless do not have a sharp mind and really need those handouts. And most of all they need respect and to be treated with love. Thanks for giving me something to laugh at today.

Anonymous said...

God bless you our dear sister and family. You are in our hearts, thoughts and prayers!