Patricia Nell Warren

97 and Homeless in L.A.

Filed By Patricia Nell Warren | June 10, 2009 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics, Politics
Tags: budget, California budget cuts, HIV/AIDS, income, LGBT homeless, social action

Several 97.jpgtimes now, two colleagues of mine have seen this elderly woman at a busy intersection in central Los Angeles. She's been there in her wheelchair, with her cardboard sign, for a couple of weeks now. Her middle-aged son, also homeless, stands by quietly.

Probably half a million people have glimpsed her as they drive by in their SUVs and BMWs. As yet, no social-action organization or church group have thought to take her in.

Finally, yesterday, my friends went back with a camera, feeling horrible that they couldn't take her in either.

While Tyler kept the car idling at the curb, Davyd hopped out with his camera. They gave her some money, and asked her permission to take her picture and publish it everywhere, in hopes it would spark some help.

"Yeah, about five thousand people have taken her picture already," the son said wearily.

Ninety-seven and homeless. It shouldn't happen. Not in L.A.. Not anywhere. She was born in 1912, when women couldn't vote yet, when World War I hadn't happened yet.

Long ago, wasn't there a poem about immigrants arriving in New York City that began, "Give me your tired, your poor...the wretched refuse of your teeming shore"?

Well, America doesn't need to import any "tired poor" from Europe or Asia any more. We are busy making lots of them right here at home.

Incidentally, this woman is one of the many thousands of low-income Californians, including people with HIV/AIDS, whose lifeline is ruthlessly being cut by our governor and legislature so they can balance the budget.

I hope all the well-fed politicians with their lifetime packages of income and healthcare take a long hard look at her. She's the human face of the holocaust they're creating.

Photo by David Daniels & Tyler St. Mark


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Patricia,

When I took this picture I just wept. It tore through my soul. I hope we can get someone agency to help her and her son.

Where are these great churches who advocate helping the needy? The Guvanator needs to see this picture as well.

You did good getting this on Bilerico. Perhaps this will go viral to get her and her son some help.

My heart and soul hurt for her.

I am a photographer and philanthropist based on the Space Coast of Florida. In working on my latest project and came across your photo of the 97 year-old woman in the wheelchair. I found the image to be especially poignant. I am hoping that you would be willing to grant me release (and possibly a full resolution copy) to incorporate your image into a photo collage I am putting together to stimulate support for local charities that support the homeless in these difficult times. I look forward to hearing from you.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 10, 2009 10:05 PM

Patricia, I am confused, without an address can she still get SSI, have a bank account, etc.? Many seniors have opted for direct transfers to their bank accounts, but do they lose these accounts when they no longer have a permanent address?

I despise nursing homes and perhaps she does as well, but a wheelchair bound elder should be in contact with just such a horrible institution simply for safety. Her son is also likely an elder. I do not know enough about their story or how the state agencies responsible did not provide so I am casting about in the dark here.

This is not just wrong it is criminally wrong.

I have long sensed that there is a growing backlash in America against elders who can no longer work and require care. Those under a certain age do not want to contribute to Social Security because the time they will need it seems far away. When I, at 16, had deductions from my first paychecks for Social Security I wrote it off as my responsibility to the workers and soldiers who had won WW II. Everyone knew a senior who had contributed their entire lives then and many still did as unpaid "baby watchers" for neighborhood mothers, tellers of stories to small children on porch steps about life "long ago." I'll bet this woman has great stories!

May I use this image in an ad campaign for some software? I've found a website (UK) which teaches people how to build and run their OWN websites (cheap to free) to make money.

Having been homeless myself (1 year only thankfully) after acting as sole-caregiver to my stroke-disabled Mother (for 10 years) - I think I know more of the plight of the homeless than anyone in political office or their civil service 'careerists'. If you've been homeless you'll know their type - come to them for a pitance of help only to be stuck in what they KNOW is a drug den where what little you DO still have is stolen from you.

I want to find a way to contribute a percentage of any income I gain to helping those in this situation. I expect others I help to do the same ("Paying It Forward").

I want to locate the folks in these photos so they can share in the rewards (if any) I receive through websites.

I figure if this website stuff can be done at little or no cost through a free Internet hookup (at a public library?) homeless (and soon to BE) can latch onto this as a lifeline to rescue themselves.

I know I spent a year working as a volunteer at a local hospital while I was homeless. Luckily I managed to get into a county shelter on Welfare. Others I knew weren't so lucky - mostly due to drugs, alcohol and pride (a very stealthy drug) which kept them from asking for help, accepting help or kow-towing to the rules to GET that help.

Having served in the military and then being denied employment (DUE to reserve military status) I quickly learned to subordinate MY pride and THAT'S how I survived. Play the game according to the rules and 'He who has the gold MAKES the rules'.

I met more bible-thumping holy-rolling do-gooders who lambasted me and others for not heeding "the word of God" (as THEY saw it) as THEY 'faithfully' attended religious services each week and give up chocolate or meat for Lent.

Odd then how the bible makes no mention of Christ asking anyone to give-up their favorite foods - only to do good unto others without expectation of reward and isn't that the very meaning of "Paying It Forward"?

I'm also looking for photos of homeless Vets to drive the point 'home' to those still on active duty service.

In Boot Camp the DIs drove the motto 'Always Prepared' into our skulls but no one ever taught us how to prepare for THIS.

'The World' isn't kind to those of us suffering with PTSD.

Go ahead Larry, use it. This sort of thing should not happen in America.

It's now October 2011 and I was just in LA recently and met a disabled elderly woman, living in her wheelchair in a doorway on Vermont Avenue. SS didn't pay enough for her to live in LA and she said she couldn't find anywhere to go for help. I tried calling the LA county health department to find out where she could go and the person who answered the phone said her family should help her and then hung up.

It's now October 2011 and I was just in LA recently and met a disabled elderly woman, living in her wheelchair in a doorway on Vermont Avenue. SS didn't pay enough for her to live in LA and she said she couldn't find anywhere to go for help. I tried calling the LA county health department to find out where she could go and the person who answered the phone said her family should help her and then hung up.