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LAist Interview: Joel John Roberts

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As Valentine's Day approaches, what better way to acknowledge the holiday than highlighting the work of an Angeleno like homeless advocate, Joel John Roberts, who embodies the tenent "love thy neighbor"? Joel has lead the homeless advocacy organization PATH (People Assisting The Homeless) for ten years and maintains the LA Homeless Blog, which includes links to articles about the homeless in Los Angeles and comments about current events such as the fate of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority or acts of celebrity benevolence like George Clooney giving a $100 to a homeless man on the streets of London. Joel is also the author of the satirical book How to Increase Homelessness.

Age and Occupation
I have been the CEO of PATH (People Assisting The Homeless) for the last ten years. I’m 44 years old.

How long have you lived in Los Angeles, and which neighborhood do you live in?
I grew up in Long Beach since I was two years old. I now live in Santa Monica with my family.

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Why do you live in Los Angeles?
I am here because L.A. needs more social entrepreneurs who are passionately pursuing innovative and strategic social programs that are changing people’s lives, and transforming our community.

How did you become an advocate for homeless people?
When I was an infant, I lived in an orphanage in an Asian city and was adopted by a family in Long Beach. They gave me the “tools” to succeed in life — education, love, faith, hope… It is now my turn to “pay forward” to a world that took care of me. These same “tools” that I received years ago are now offered to people in Los Angeles who are homeless and hurting (through the agency I run.) From being homeless to serving the homeless. It’s a full circle.