Fresno woman accused of a subletting scheme defending her business

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Elenita Verano is accused of renting properties then subletting them to drug addicts, parolees and people with mental health issues. (KFSN)

Elenita Verano is accused of renting properties then subletting them to drug addicts, parolees and people with mental health issues. But Verano said her tenants have nowhere else to go and she's helping keep people off the streets.

Chandra Parrish is the first to admit, life with a mental illness can be heartbreaking.

"I have no family in this town. I have no one here that's able to help me," said Parrish.

She suffers from bipolar disorder and multiple personality disorder. And if it wasn't for this home, she says her and the other tenants here would be homeless.

"We want to have a home we want to have a life, we want to have a good life a fulfilled life. And she lets us have that," said Parrish.

She's talking about Verano. A woman loved by her sub-letters but loathed by authorities.

"I like having my own space. And Miss Verano gave me that opportunity to have my own space. And be able to have my own privacy," said Parrish.

Verano doesn't hide the fact, her business model is different. She rents homes, divides them up, then sublets the homes to people who couldn't otherwise afford it.

"I'm not in the business of subletting, I don't want to call it that way. What I do is provide affordable housing to disadvantaged people," said Verano.

But Fresno Police officers say it's not that simple. Many of the homes are being monitored by investigators because of code violations and repeated complaints from neighbors.

The home where Fire Captain Pete Dern fell through a roof was a residence she was subletting at the time of the fire. And a former tenant she subletted to is accused of starting the blaze.

Legal analyst Tony Capozzi says this type of business plan isn't uncommon. "I think more and more people are being released from jail are not getting into the various mental health facilities and there's nowhere for them to go. Something like this provides an opportunity," he said.

Verano defends her actions and says she's not taking advantage of an opportunity, but helping people like Parrish who need a home.

"And that's all thanks to Miss Verano. She's the best woman in the world I love her," said Parrish.

The Fresno Police Department said they've fined her for excessive calls in the past. But now they're meeting with the district attorney's office... to see if any criminal misconduct has occurred.
Related Topics:
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