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Elderly mother, two sons call SUV home

October 16, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The story of Bessie Mae Berger seems to underline the homeless crisis. Berger is 97 years old and homeless. She and her two sons live in a car roaming the Southland streets. She is partly homeless by choice; she refuses to live in a state-supported convalescent home, and her two sons refuse to place her there.

"I would never go into a convalescent home," says Berger.

"I made the promise that I was going to make sure that she stayed alive to see 100, and it's not going to be in a convalescent home," said Berger's 60-year-old son Larry Wilkerson.

For the last five years, Berger and her sons have made their home in an old Suburban.

"It's terrible," says Bessie, who sleeps in the front seat of the SUV. "I can't lay down anymore, on account of my back."

Larry says he and his 62-year-old brother Charlie suffer from chronic arthritis and back ailments and can't work. He says disability will only go so far.

"When Arnold took office and made his first budget cuts, I was one of the guys that lost my job," said Larry. "Not only did I lose our place to live, but I lost an entire storage full of furniture and clothing and everything because we had no money."

"We don't even make enough to rent a motel for a week," said Charlie.

"My two sons, if I didn't have them I don't know what I'd do. I love them dearly and they take care of me," said Berger.

"I love her to the point that I would sacrifice my own life for her," said Charlie.

Berger says she doesn't know how much longer she can go on living in her situation. "I want a home, and my two boys want a home also."

If people would like to donate to help the Wilkerson family they can call Charlie at (310) 774-4413.

Or through the mail:
Charlie Wilkerson
P.O. Box 12901 Venice Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90066

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