Shawn Pleasants is an advocate for unhoused people in Los Angeles. A former banker and entrepreneur with an economics degree from Yale, he himself lived here unhoused for 10 years. Before joining “What Will It Take to End Homelessness in L.A.?,” a Zócalo/United Way event co-presented with the Committee for Greater Los Angeles, he talked in the green room about inter-solar system travel, his morning routine, and the necessity of hope.
What did you have for breakfast this morning?
A Don’t Quit! Chocolate Daily Complete Nutrition shake.
Where was your favorite place to go as a child?
Grandma’s house. Every summer we would drive from San Antonio, [Texas,] to Milford, Virginia, to visit our grandmother.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone experiencing homelessness for the first time?
Have patience. Don’t lose hope. And know that it is a difficult path. It will take time. There will be many frustrations. There will be many dashed dreams and hopes, but hope has to get you through it.
If you could time travel to any time or place, past or future, where and when would you go?
I’d love to be in Egypt when it was a thriving society, and at the same time, I would also love to be alive whenever we reach the age of inter-solar system travel.
Have you picked up any new hobbies during quarantine?
Zooming. I’m an avid Zoomer.
What is the most important part of your daily routine?
The first thing I do when I wake up is I turn on CNN and catch all the stories that have happened overnight and this morning to frame my day.
June 1 marked the one-year anniversary of having your own place. Do you have a favorite item in your apartment now?
We have a little wooden tree that my husband hangs pretty things off of. I don’t know what you would call it.
How do you decompress?
We’ll go for a walk in the neighborhood.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
Right now, people who don’t feel the need to get vaccinated. That bothers me.
What's the last thing that inspired you?
My father turned 88 years old, and he’s still vibrant and active. He received over 700 birthday wishes on Facebook. And my father doesn’t Facebook. He doesn’t even smartphone, so that was amazing.