People We See: Meet Kenyatta McNeil

In this feature, Association CEO John Hawkins introduces you to people you see every day,but you might not know who they are. The Club reminds you that we all have names and stories to tell.

Meet Kenyatta McNeil

“Kenyatta is a very smart, creative and proud woman.” – John Hawkins

Location of interview: Near Third Street downtown.

Birthday: Jan. 18, 1973 (50)

Birthplace: “Danville, Illinois”

To California: “I moved with my mother to Oakland, California when I was 15.”

Education: “I went to Oakland High, California, and graduated in 1991. I went to Sonoma State University for two years, then Merritt College for a year.”

Favorite childhood memory: “When I used to go to the fair in Georgetown, Illinois, I like the elephant ears (snack) – they would put powdered sugar and whipped cream on, with strawberries.”

First jobs: “After college, I wrote for newspapers in San Francisco – the Youth Outlook, and I wrote commentaries for KQED 88.5 FM. I did that for 15 years.”

Kenyatta McNeil

Her story: “After my jobs, I moved to LA with my mom. It’s ironic because I used to live across the street [from the interview location] in the St. George Apartments for 12 years. But I lost it when I went to jail for 11 months for assaulting my boyfriend’s ex on the public bus she was driving. When I got out of jail, everything was gone.”

On street: “About six months now.”

First night on the street: “It was very, very horrendous. It’s been impactful and really hard. It’s been super cold out here.”

Favorite book: “I’m a published writer myself. I do not really have a book that I like reading, but I’m a writer. I write all the time.”

Advice for a high-schooler: “Set a foundation for yourself and try not to overdo things. Try take things slowly and plan for the future and for the long run, because you never know. Things happen really fast.”

Drugs: “If you try drugs, you could get hooked. It’s not something you can control. One day I was hooked on heroin. I’m on methadone right now. Heroin isn’t the worst; crystal is.”

If you were Mayor: “I would have places where we can rest, you know? Not so much a shelter but like a community place where we can go in there and watch TV, read, use a phone, restrooms and showers. 24 hours.”

In five years: “Hopefully, I’m off the streets. I’m scared to get a tent; it’s scary to have a tent when you are a single woman. It’s safer to be exposed than be in a tent.”

Association CEO John Hawkins and Mark DeLon.

The Club gave Kenyatta toiletries, food, $20 and bottled water.

The interview was conducted by John Hawkins, CEO, Los Angeles City Employees Association.