For the past year, she was a regular at the . She when she could, with her spangled earrings, heavy French accent and beaming smile.
She contributed to Studio City Patch regularly, taking photos of the , , and she helped get recognition by the Neighborhood Council.
Now, is homeless.
For the past three weeks she has wandered Ventura Boulevard, ducking into the at Vantage, thenat night, and sometimes sleeping in She lost her job as a clerical assistant at a clinic, but still wears her office garb. Her two cats Zooey and Mocka are being housed by a veterinarian friend, but she misses them terribly.
If you’d pass Helen on the street, she wouldn’t look homeless. She has an ear clip for her cell phone and she has a borrowed laptop that helps her stay connected to Patch.
“No one has offered to help me, I am very much alone,” she said Wednesday in front of on Ventura Boulevard as the heat was approaching 100 degrees again. “I haven’t slept very much in three weeks.”
Hatat’s story is tragic all around. A French native, she married in 1978 and moved to the area with her American husband, and they had a daughter. But her husband and daughter were killed in a car accident when they went back to France for a visit. Helen couldn’t bear staying there, and her parents have long since died.
She fell on hard times recently; she lost her place to stay where she was helping a woman, lost her job and her local church didn’t offer any help besides pointing her to city shelters.
“I was scared in the homeless shelters, they are horrible,” Hatat said. “Things were stolen from me there. I felt unsafe. It is no place for a human being.”
Friends offered her a laptop, but not a place to stay.
“I feel like this could happen to anyone, many people are just one step away from this,” Hatat said. “I am surprised that so many people I have helped have turned their back.”
She is looking for someone with a guest house, or someone who needs help with clerical work or housecleaning until she gets back on her feet.
“I am sure some of these local celebrities may have a place for me, a room, or something,” she said. “I mean, look, this could even happen to if people stopped going to his movies, right?”
She said she would rather be homeless in Studio City because it’s safer for a single 56-year-old woman than it is in Hollywood or North Hollywood or anywhere else nearby. She won’t beg for money. She said she sells her blood for $30 to $50 a week for money for food.
For now, she still has her cell phone: (818) 714-1242 and her email: HelenHatat@gmail.com. She said she is at thein the heart of Studio City until closing time, then at She can also be reached at her Patch account here. (See the video above where she tells more of her story.)
“You can come over to just say ‘hello’ to me, and if you have help I will appreciate it,” Hatat said. “Just don’t tell me to go find a shelter, that won’t help. And when I can, I will be helping out in the community someday again, I enjoy helping people.”
Right now, she needs a little help herself, but she’s too uncomfortable to ask for it.