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Chicago Not Her Kind of Town : ‘Justiceville’ Evictee Rejects Her Cousin’s Plea

From Associated Press

A woman who calls a Skid Row bench home today embraced a tearful relative who traveled 2,000 miles to find her but rejected her cousin’s offer of help.

Barbara Whittington, 43, of Chicago, arrived in Los Angeles today after a two-day train ride, drawn by a newspaper photo of her cousin, Helen Oliver, showing the woman being evicted Friday from a makeshift shantytown for homeless people.

Oliver, 61, wheeled a cart containing her belongings, with her cat perched atop it, over to a park bench where she sat and talked with Whittington and the Chicago woman’s daughter, Deirdre, 23.

“I’ve been in L.A. since 1943. This is home,” Oliver said. “I’m going to be cared for. Everything’s going to be all right.”

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She said she plans to marry but would not identify the man. “I’m about to be married, and I’ll go wherever my husband takes me,” she said. “I’m hoping he will pick me up any day now, any day now.”

“I’m grateful. Really, I am,” she said of her cousin’s efforts to find her and help out.

Whittington said she plans to continue trying to talk her cousin into returning either to Louisiana or Chicago.

“It makes me sad, because I know she doesn’t have to live this way,” Whittington said.

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Oliver, her cat and three dogs have been living on the park bench since “Justiceville,” a teeming collection of makeshift cardboard and wood shelters, was bulldozed by city cleanup crews Friday.

The Whittingtons were alerted to their relative’s plight when a picture of Oliver hugging her cat, Pam, appeared in a newspaper accompanied by a story of the shantytown demolition.

“I have no place to go now,” Oliver said Friday after the demolition of Justiceville. “No place will let me bring my animals. So I must sleep in the street.”

She said her possessions include the cat, dogs, a radio and a shopping cart of belongings.


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