Creative Loafing's 2001 story about Robin Hester is as heartbreaking as it is troubling. The 27-year-old AIDS patient, who was blind because of complications from the disease, was in desperate need of affordable housing. She lived with her grandmother, Sara Wright, who prohibited her granddaughter from sitting on the front porch after a stray bullet from the drug house across the street shattered the window of a closely parked car.
"Lost in the Shuffle" was the opening salvo in CL reporter Tara Servatius' series of stories about the dysfunctional Charlotte Housing Authority, which ended with the dismissal of director Harrison Shannon. Kevin Edwards, Hester's case worker at the time, started working for the Mecklenburg County Health Department as an HIV case manager three years ago in 2009. While there's still a need for affordable housing in Charlotte, Edwards says there is more assistance from the private sector.
Hester hadn't found affordable housing by the time she died a year after the story published, Edwards says. But her bravery in standing up for her rights made it a memorable case.
"I was really proud that I stood up for injustice, and I was even more proud of Robin and her grandmother for speaking out," Edwards says, "because that was a time that people didn't talk about HIV and certainly didn't put a face on it. I'm really proud that they took that risk and stepped out."