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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