Charles Willis is 38 years old and was born and raised in South Central. He was bussed to school in the Valley and, as a teenager, lived through the 1992 Los Angeles Uprising. In 2006, after he was tested positive for HIV, he lost his job, faced an eviction, and lived in Skid Row for three and a half years. The time he spent with the Skid Row community inspired him to give back and through his network at the John Wesley Health Center, he became a case worker.
He sat with Phoebe Unter and Terra Graziani to talk about his eviction and giving back to the community he called home for three years and a half years.
“2006 I was diagnosed with HIV. And a year later after that I lost the job. I couldn't pay the rent anymore and they had to kick me out, and that's when I found myself on Skid Row, living for three and a half years. Oh. Once you become homeless and you hit Skid Row, there's only one way to go and that's up, and that's the choice I made. I had to go up. Because I can go back down and plus I've been 12 years clean of drugs, and I refuse to go back to that level again. During that time, that's when I found my calling because I like to help people. And that's when I first became a case manager. “