Putting a Face on the Malibu Homeless

Roy Frediani became homeless after losing his electrical jobs during the recession in 2008. He moved to Malibu at the end of last year to start a job, but the company quickly folded.

With an increase in the number of homeless people in Malibu and the L.A. area in recent years, many residents find themselves encountering the homeless population around town more often now than before. The Malibu Times met with a homeless U.S. veteran for the final installment of the series. 

Roy Frediani

Roy Frediani, 45, served in the U.S. Navy from 1986 to 1995, including tours in Bosnia and the Middle East, and is a master electrician with a fiber optic certificate. His clean-cut appearance is impeccable — which is quite a feat, considering he’s been living out of his Jeep for the past few months. Ever hear of Murphy’s Law? Lately, just about everything that could go wrong has gone wrong for Frediani.

He has four children — a daughter in the Marines in Maryland, a daughter in veterinarian school in Montana on scholarship, and two children staying with relatives in Ohio. His wife of 16 years died of breast cancer three years ago at the age of 42, which is still difficult for him to talk about.

Frediani was based in Ohio, often traveling to electrical jobs in other states, and selling cars at a local dealership between jobs in the winter. He was hard hit when the recession began in 2008 and electrical construction work plummeted. He worked as much as he could, but with four kids and a sick wife, there wasn’t a lot of money left in the bank. 

Last year, he got a job in Colorado doing fiber optic installation in a remote county, but he was afraid his truck wouldn’t make it through the hard winter. He went to the Denver Veteran’s Administration job center looking for other employment, and found a position not far from Malibu with a solar panel company.

Once Frediani arrived in this area on December 1 to start the job, it turned out the company really just wanted him for straight-commission sales, not electrical installation. Because he came here with little money, they put him up in a Motel 6. He made sales calls and generated leads, but their specialized product was a tough sell, and the company folded. 

Frediani was then homeless except for his Jeep and a membership at the Simi Valley Gold’s Gym the company had bought for him. He sold some treasured belongings at a pawnshop. One day while he was showering at the gym, someone hit his Jeep in the parking lot and “bent the frame and left the bumper half off.” Luckily, he was able to talk a body shop into letting him use their facility to fix the vehicle himself, which was crucial since it now served as his home and transportation. 

While frantically searching for another job, Frediani hit one snafu after another. In order to quickly find electrical work in California, he needed to join the union — the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) — but they required certain original documents that he had to drive to three different states to collect. In the process, the Jeep’s transmission cracked. 

The IBEW also required a $1,000 check to join, and The Artifac Tree helped.

“Martha did that for me and wrote checks, no questions asked,” Frediani said. For that, he is eternally grateful.

“I’d volunteer the last minute of my life there after what she did for me,” he said. “I would’ve starved to death without her.”

In the meantime, he went to the V.A. office in L.A. for help and got nothing. “The V.A. here won’t help me because I’m healthy and not on heroin,” Frediani said while shaking his head. 

Frediani’s last major hurdle is obtaining a valid California driver’s license, which is almost always required for positions in his field. When he went to the Department of Motor Vehicles to apply for one, they said he’d have to pay $1,200 worth of outstanding camera tickets from several years ago when he was here on another job. He doesn’t have the money, and his Ohio license expires June 30. 

He’s now asking Martha for help paying the tickets. “I’m beside myself,” he said. “I’m behind the eight ball.”

The Artifac Tree

Before part three of this series ran, the Artifac Tree was given its 60-day eviction notice. “The Tree,” as some call it, has existed on Cross Creek Road since 1973, and was mentioned by almost every homeless person interviewed as the one entity that helped them get back on their feet again — that it surpassed the government agencies and nonprofits they encountered in almost every respect.

The second-hand store, managed by Martha Templeton, gives out money, clothes and supplies with no red tape or waiting period.