Juan King partners with United Way HomeWalk. (courtesy photo)

Juan King, the brother of the late Rodney King at the center of the 1992 L.A. Rebellion, is partnering with the United Way of Greater Los Angeles for its 11th Annual HomeWalk To End Homelessness in Los Angeles on November 18.

Juan King said he was homeless on the streets of L.A. for 27 years.  He struggled with drug addiction and bounced between shelters.

Alas, help came through a permanent supportive home, and now, King and his girlfriend own their own home in Palmdale.

In a recent interview with Sentinel contributor Charlene Muhammad, King discussed how he became involved in HomeWalk and what he hopes to achieve.

Juan King (JK):  I was a candidate of the streets.  I lived in the streets for quite some time as a homeless individual, and they chose to pick my story as a means to possibly establish a future and betterment for the homeless people; and if I can be of some assistance, I will give it my best and all advice. This is my first time.

Charlene Muhammad (CM):  What began your own spiral into homelessness?

JK:  To be totally honest, it was a multitude of things.  I had some growing up issues, where I had to experience some delinquency, in which my family was not fond of. So, they kind of like told me to ship up or ship out.  But we had some ethnical and social issues, which impacted upon my family as well, as well as myself and some of the decisions that we made; which forced me to rely upon the streets as a means to survive.

CM:  That (homelessness) lasted for 27 years. Would you say those things are what prolonged your situation?

JK:  Well, yeah.  Even today, we have ethnical issues that impact a lot of races, not just myself.  We have Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, Chinese, Armenian, Samoans.  The list goes on, that’s out there in those streets, as a result of some of us pushing each other out of positions and out of homes for superiority or just individuality, jobs, freedom, wealth, or just trying to survive.  I like to label it as the games people play, but again, that’s not the only thing.  I had my substance abuse issues. I had job issues.  And then I was diagnosed with Category 3 Prostate Cancer.  And at that point in my life, I just chose to expire out, without any treatment, but I got treatment as a result of the Pasadena Adult Center, and they put me into what’s called transitional housing, and a little rehabilitation, and I just choose to live now.

CM: What do you anticipate happening with HomeWalk?

JK:  I would like to see HomeWalk push the biggest advertisement they can and get some of these big corporations involved to fund us the money to create project housing, maybe five or six stories.  And we can branch out to areas that’s not being used for habitat living, and just build homes for these people.  The ones that choose to come into the homes, then allow that to be so.  The ones that’s low income, border-line homeless, move them into there and possibly allow some of their own income that they get from the state or county, assist HomeWalk in maintaining that property and the construction of it, and just getting some of these mentally ill people into some type of institution that can provide them the necessary attention, as well as security that they need to not be homeless and to be inside a facility of whatever sort appropriate for their condition of chronic illness.

Currently 57,000 people in Los Angeles County are homeless – an increase of 23 percent since 2016, indicates United Way HomeWalk 2017.  Those statistics also represent a 57 percent in veteran homelessness; a 20 percent increase in chronically homeless individuals; and 24,000 individuals experiencing homelessness for the first-time, it continued.

HomeWalk will help end homelessness both in the money raised and the voices raised, said Chris Ko, director of Homeless Initiatives for the United Way, during the same Sentinel interview.

“It’s about building housing and helping the homeless make their way into that housing,” Ko stated.  He said 100 percent of all money raised goes towards that.

This HomeWalk is special because it will launch United Way’s “Yes to Housing” campaign, which is about building more homes in the community, according to Ko.

“We’re excited, because in the past, we definitely wanted the donations, and then we also wanted people to show up at HomeWalk to show this city and this county that people care about homelessness,” said Ko.