Carter Hewgley is director of homeless initiatives at United Way of Greater Los Angeles; he’s spent his career—including time at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)—using data to problem solve. Before participating in “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 pineapple tacos, dancing, and what he misses about his government job in the green room.
What’s your favorite taco filling?
This is weird: probably pineapple.
What’s your worst habit?
It used to be biting my nails, but I stopped that. Overthinking.
What do you miss, if anything, about being a government employee?
Having direct control and responsibility for making things happen.
What does it take to get you out on a dance floor?
What is the most surprising data point you’ve encountered in your work in L.A. so far?
The mortality of people who are outside dying 20 years too soon. I didn’t know how bad it was until I really worked here.
You teach at Johns Hopkins; what question do you wish your students would ask more often?
I wish they would ask “why?’”
What book changed your life?
Another Country by James Baldwin.
Who are your dream dinner party guests—from any era?
James Baldwin. Madonna. And maybe my grandma.
Where do you go to be alone?
I can be alone everywhere.
What’s been your pandemic silver lining?
Spending time with my husband.