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Nonprofit group comes to homeless family's aid

Bessie Mae Berger, 97, and her two sons, Larry and Charlie Wilkerson, had been living in a Chevy Suburban on the streets of Venice. The three now share rooms at a Van Nuys hotel.

October 20, 2009|Bob Pool

A 97-year-old homeless woman 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 on Friday that detailed their plight prompted authorities from the city, L.A. County and the state to step up efforts to assist the trio and led a year-old group, the Integrated Recovery Network, to offer them immediate shelter.

The three are now staying in rooms at the California Villa Retirement Hotel in Van Nuys, Charlie Wilkerson said Monday.

"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 family.

The recovery network is funded by Kaiser Permanente, the Corporation for Supportive Housing and private donations and can provide placements for those who fall through the cracks for governmental services, Temple said.

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bob.pool@latimes.com

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