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October 21, 2009

Re "She has a front seat to homelessness," Column One, Oct. 16, and "Family is no longer living in SUV," Oct. 20

On behalf of the staff and participants of the Downtown Women's Center, we would like to thank you for your front-page story.

It is not uncommon for articles about homeless people to re-victimize their subjects with gratuitous, dehumanizing descriptions of desperate conditions that inspire only pity. On the other hand, the problem-solving skills, dignity and resiliency of Bessie Mae Berger and her family illuminated in this article inspire respect and admiration.

Unlike pity, these powerful emotions take people from their couches to their feet and mobilize communities in support of solutions.

We desperately need more permanent, supportive housing options for people like the Bergers, who shouldn't have to break up their family in order to survive.

Lisa Watson

Los Angeles


After reading the weekend article about the elderly homeless woman and her sons, I only felt sadness.

Granted, the three of them don't have a lot of money coming in, but here in Long Beach we have a glut of apartments for rent; there are small one-bedroom units nearby for under $800 a month.

Additionally, we have many outreach programs that provide food.

Shari Posey

Long Beach


As I read the article about the 97-year-old homeless woman, I couldn't help but think: She had 11 children, and the surviving ones cannot help their mother?

What a shameful society we live in.

Ida Messinger

Los Angeles


There are more holes in the front-page story about Berger's plight than in a $1 pair of pantyhose.

Her supposed caretaker sons say they couldn't find government-subsidized housing for all of them, so instead they had her live in a crummy SUV?

She has other living children with whom she claims she has no contact. Is she telling us that she raised six worthless children? I would like to hear their side.

I feel that her common sense and judgment may be fogged by the habits and stubbornness of extreme old age.

William Bell

Canoga Park


Every commentary focusing attention on people such as these shows the huge societal and economic dividing lines in this state and country. That this should happen anywhere, let alone in this state and country, is shameful.

The only thing that would have been more apropos would have been to place this story in the weekend edition alongside some garish real estate "news" telling us how wonderful it is that Mr. and Mrs. Hollywood have bought a 10,000-square-foot home with six bedrooms and eight bathrooms for the two of them.

Karen Williams



Throughout our nation, there are many military bases that sit idle since their closure. Wouldn't a simple, common-sense solution be to reopen these bases for the homeless, as they are already equipped with kitchens, cots and bathrooms?

Sheryl Kinne

Lake Balboa

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