I had this in the /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/000-default file
Alias /russ/ "/home/russ/public_html" <Directory "/home/russ/public_html"> Options Indexes MultiViews FollowSymLinks AllowOverride None Order deny,allow Deny from all Allow from 127.0.0.0/255.0.0.0 ::1/128 </Directory>
And had given the following permissions
$ sudo chgrp -R www-data /home/russ/public_html $ sudo chown -R russ /home/russ/public_html $ sudo chmod -R 775 /home/russ/public_html
The problem was that the Apache user (www-data) also needs access to the parent directories. So repeat the above for /home/russ and /home.