Thursday, September 18, 2008

UPMARKET DOWN-AND-OUTS


"Being homeless in this upper crust enclave is not exactly like living on the street in other places. 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. They're an incongruous sight amid the shows of superfluous wealth, underscoring the pervasiveness of the huge homeless population in Los Angeles County. Some 74,000 people live on the streets or in shelters, making the county the nation's capital of homelessness." (Yahoo News, 13 September) RD

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