First Local Landlord Rents Apartment to Malibu Homeless Man with Housing Voucher

Former homeless man Rigo Veloso in his new studio apartment near Malibu. His studio is where he lives and does all of his painting, which he describes as “abstract minimal expressionism” with social content. 

A homeless man who’d been living in a tent behind the Malibu Library for the past two years, Rigo Veloso, 47, finally has a roof over his head and is living his dream of staying in the Malibu area. His new landlord, longtime local resident Colin Dangaard, owns a small horse ranch off Kanan Dume Road. Dangaard remodeled a portion of an existing two-story building with horse stables below and rooms above into an efficiency apartment. Veloso moved in on December 1, and pays rent with $1,100 per month in government housing vouchers.

“I’m shocked that I’m the only person who has taken in a homeless person [with housing vouchers] in the Malibu area so far,” Dangaard said. “Being homeless could happen to anybody. I made my point [by renting to Veloso], and I hope I’ll start something. The homeless are often just the victims of circumstance—it doesn’t mean they’re bad people.”

Alex Gittinger, one of Malibu’s two homeless outreach workers with The People Concern, signed Veloso up for various homeless services, including the housing voucher program, which can be a lengthy and bureaucratic process. But having the housing vouchers doesn’t mean that just any landlord will take them—it’s still not easy to find a rental in LA County for $1,100/month. 

“It’s my hope that this may catch on, and that once people hear about this story, others will come forward willing to rent to the homeless,” Gittinger said. “It’s especially difficult for homeless who have become part of the Malibu community. Among the homeless in Malibu, we have about five individuals, some here for 30 years, who are getting too old to live on the street and don’t want to move anywhere else.”

Veloso told the story of how he became homeless, what homeless life in Malibu was like and how he finally found a home after two years. 

After living in England and getting a divorce a few years ago, Veloso came to stay with a local married friend with a catering business in Santa Monica. A sous chef by trade, he worked in the catering business, but left because he was not getting along with his friend’s wife. He then began living on the street.

Veloso set up a tent behind the Malibu Library, which he later moved to a field near Pepperdine to get away from some of the other homeless. He hung out at the library and Ralphs. He was very open about the fact that he suffered from anxiety and depression, and that these conditions were very difficult to manage as a homeless person. He suffered from suicidal thoughts, especially at Christmas time. 

“When I was homeless, I felt I wasn’t human. I lost part of my humanity,” Veloso said. “I’ll never forget those terrible nights.”

He began volunteering as a chef for the homeless dinners at Malibu United Methodist Church. He also met Gittinger, who helped him get housing vouchers—a process that took “months and months.” His fellow volunteer at the homeless dinners, local hair stylist Csilla Csapo, introduced him to her landlord—Colin Dangaard. 

“I told Colin if he built something, I could rent from him,” Veloso said. They agreed, and he moved his tent to Dangaard’s property until the rental unit was finished and inspected. 

Veloso said after first moving in, “I felt weird, because I’d been sleeping in a tent. The first month, I just rested because I was so tired. I feel so blessed.” 

“This is one positive story in Malibu, but I think there could be a lot more,” Veloso said. “If you rent to someone, you can give them a shot at life. Homelessness is the worst thing anybody could ever go through, but you can bring people into the community and give them a chance to flourish.” 

Veloso’s life is now his paintings and his art. He hopes to use his art to “raise awareness for the homeless. If we can change someone’s life, it’s a big deal. A lot of dreams can come true here.” He hopes eventually to have an art show at City Hall and donate the proceeds to homeless needs.

“[Veloso] was painting in his tent in 115-degree heat,” Dangaard said. “It’s been a great reward to me—seeing him achieving something. He could be the next Picasso.”

Anyone interested in renting to a local homeless person with a housing voucher can contact Gittinger or Alex Michel at 310.460.2638.