Working Outside the Housing System, Venice Couple Moved Nearly 100 Into Affordable Units in a Year

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John Betz rolls a refrigerator down a street in South Los Angeles for a duplex he and his partner, Heidi Roberts, set up to house homeless people in this undated photo. (Credit: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

John Betz rolls a refrigerator down a street in South Los Angeles for a duplex he and his partner, Heidi Roberts, set up to house homeless people in this undated photo. (Credit: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

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It started with a spreadsheet of income and expenses showing a modest profit could be made by housing homeless people.

The profit hasn’t materialized yet. But Heidi Roberts and John Betz, a Venice couple who decided to make their mom-and-pop rental business part of the solution to homelessness, have shown that they can get people off the streets while operating outside the government-run system.

In just a year, the couple have provided homes to 98 people, many of whom were placed by homeless services agencies across Los Angeles County.

Currently, 52 formerly homeless tenants live in three newly built properties that they bought in South L.A. Their enterprise grew out of Roberts’ experience as a longtime volunteer with homeless agencies. She saw firsthand case workers’ struggles to find housing for their clients.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

Patricia Wilson gets a hug from Heidi Roberts, left, as she and other tenants move into their new home along Wall Street in April 2018 in Los Angeles. (Credit: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)
Patricia Wilson gets a hug from Heidi Roberts, left, as she and other tenants move into their new home along Wall Street in April 2018 in Los Angeles. (Credit: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

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