Using a Roth IRA to House Homeless Veterans and Refugees: John’s Story

John of Indianapolis has built a large portfolio of multi-family housing, much of it held in his Roth IRA. In the last 10 years, he has been housing homeless veterans in Indianapolis in properties he owns in his Equity Trust Roth IRA.

One of his most recent investments was a two-bedroom house that he acquired through a bank-owned auction. It was a two-bedroom, one-bath property on a quarter acre.

John’s IRA bought the house for around $60,000 and spent about $17,000 in repairs, including a new furnace, flooring, paint, roof repair, and fence repair.

“We went back to our partner, HVAF (Helping Veterans and Families) and said, ‘We’ve got this great house in a great neighborhood. Who do you have? Who are you looking to house?’ And we were able to find a father and a son, the son had severe autism and they needed a safe environment. This had a fenced in backyard that we were able to get this veteran in. He did have a Section 8 voucher. And so actually we passed a Section 8 inspection, no problem. And they’ve lived there for quite a while now.”

Widening his outreach –
In October 2021, after the collapse of Afghanistan and the Taliban taking over, there were approximately 100,000 refugees looking for housing, in the United States.

“Some of the same partners we had worked with (in veterans groups) had transitioned over to the refugee community and they called and said, ‘Hey John, what apartment units do you have? What houses? We have a lot of individuals, one and twosies, that need housing.’

“And so we started working with them and to date, we’re probably at about 30, 35 individuals in house, from Afghanistan,” John says. “Beyond that, we’ve connected these agencies with primarily 30 or 40 houses for other refugees to live in.”

Starting small –
While John’s large portfolio of housing and network may seem intimidating to some, he says it wasn’t always like this.

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Equity Trust Company is a directed custodian and does not provide tax, legal or investment advice. Any information communicated by Equity Trust is for educational purposes only, and should not be construed as tax, legal or investment advice. Whenever making an investment decision, please consult with your tax attorney or financial professional.

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