You could make the root directory of the home directory world readable. This wouldn't change the mode of the files or the other directories that is subdirectories of the instant home directory.
You could do this with:
$ sudo chmod go+x /home/someuser
The above mode parameters are:
g - group access
o - others/everyone else
x - execute (in this case directory access)
If you want to restrict a directory (the home directory to a specific group, for instance the default group of the web server you could set the group owner of the directory to
www-data and use only the
g of the command, leaving out the
o for others as in:
$ sudo chgrp www-data /home/someuser
$ sudo chmod g+x /home/someuser
It might be more convenient to use the
chmod go+x command for the root directory of the user and create a sub-directory of your php programs.
By the way, by default your web applications will be running under the