• Emily Johnson

Yale graduate, Wall Street banker, and entrepreneur now homeless

Shawn Pleasants, a Yale graduate (economics major), Wall Street banker, and entrepreneur is now homeless in Los Angeles. He had a spectacular resume that attracted employers: he had several Wall Street banking jobs and owned a small business. A few bad choices ten years ago, however, now leave him homeless in the streets of Koreatown, a small section of Los Angeles.

Pleasants explained to CNN how his income dried up after his mother died from cancer. Her death sent him into “an emotional and physical tailspin.” He went from living in one place to another, living in his car before he lost that, too. He became addicted to meth beginning when he had back surgery. The painkillers became too expensive, so he medicated with other things; however, he says this is not what led him into homelessness.

Pleasants explains how homeless people are just like other people: "I think a lot of people have this perception that danger lurks in the encampments," he said. "And for myself and for other volunteers, what we found is people who are just people like everyone else, who have fallen into hard times, whether that's because of their own personal issues of because their landlord evicted them or because the rent rose in a way they could no longer pay."

Last week, CNN reported that Trump’s administration officials traveled to California to take note of the growing problem throughout the state and how the state is not pushing to fix it. Pleasants is one of the 60,000 people living on the streets of Los Angeles. According to Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, “The situation has been worsening in recent years -- between 2018 and 2019, the number of homeless people went up 12% in the county and 16% in the city.”