Homeless of Downey

Dear Editor:The city of Downey is a beautiful place to buy a home, go shopping, raise some children, send your kids to school, etc. It's conveniently located just 15 miles from Los Angeles and 11 miles from Disneyland. It has neighborhoods filled with tree-lined streets, cul-de-sacs, cookie cutter homes, mansions, great schools, a dog park, shopping centers, famous restaurants and car dealerships. It's also the new home of Raytheon and Fiat. You will come across the "Pillars of Character" street signs. Responsibility Row is the name of the driveway where our Downey City Council members park their cars. Caring Way is a street near Kaiser Permanente hospital. All over our beautiful city you will find a constant hustle and bustle of human activity. And then there are the homeless... Her name is Ellen. She is approximately 60 years old. She pushes a shopping cart filled with all of her most important possessions. She frequently talks to herself and occasionally seems irritated about something. His name is Ivan. He is a boy of 20 something years of age. He may be mentally challenged and/or mentally ill. His girlfriend is pregnant. Up until recently she, too, was homeless. Ivan begs for change from strangers and sometimes they are generous. He is a young man with an old face and long beard. He would not share his name or be friendly. His nails are long and dirty. He is unwashed and disheveled. He carries a small backpack over one shoulder. It is a cold day so he wears his blanket like Superman's cape. She prefers to be called "Reverend." She is often agitated by unknown factors. Her bag is large and its heavy contents are slumped over one shoulder. She walks alone down Firestone Boulevard. To an unknown destination where she can rest her feet and think her thoughts in private, away from the gawkers who stare at her and make fun of her dirty clothes and apparent strangeness. His name was James. His residence was right next to the Embassy Suites but he disappeared many months ago and has not been seen anywhere since. He had a white beard and often walked stooped over, slow and sluggish. She lives in a car in a parking lot. She is not homeless-looking in appearance. No one ever notices her. She is in her 40s and looks like any soccer mom. She wears a backpack on her shoulder and her sorrow and shame in her eyes. No one sees her as homeless but she is profoundly so. Her name is Greta. She is 45 and neat in appearance. At first most people don't even recognize her as homeless. She has been on the street for almost two years. She says she is on a hunger strike to bring attention to the homeless of Downey. Greta Campbell, Downey

********** Published: April 19, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 01