Meeting a Need: Housing for Felons


As anyone who has been convicted of a felony can attest to, finding a job and a place to live can be a real struggle. Many employers and landlords see a criminal conviction on an applicant’s record and immediately turn that person away. It’s not only sex offenders or those convicted of violent crimes that have this problem; a marijuana possession conviction or a felony shoplifting conviction can lead to the same rejection.

Now, Les Boynton of Second Chance Rentals is offering Phoenix and Tucson residents who have been convicted of a crime a place to live. “Our society is very judgmental of people with credit or criminal problems. They think they’re all high-risk, but 90 to 95 percent of them are good-hearted, working-class people,” he says. He calls his apartments the “safety net of homelessness.” Boynton allows felons and evictees, but does not allow violent offenders, sex offenders, chronic drug dealers, or people who are constantly in and out of jail.

Part of the 12 month program involves twice-monthly apartment inspections. The program is called Step-by-Step Transitional Living, and also provides tenants with services including access to social services, continuing education, budgeting help, obtaining a vehicle, and more. There is a fee for this- typically between $80-$100 per month. Once the tenants have completed 12 months in the apartment with no issues, tenants can then rent directly from the apartment, and no longer have to pay the monthly fee. In addition to the program, tenants are not immediately disciplined for late rent payments. As long as the tenants set up payment arrangements and stay in contact with the landlord, they have as long as 30 days to get their rent payment in. Boynton specifically wanted this arrangement to discourage the need for tenants to use payday or title loans, and to allow for financial disruptions such as car repairs or medical bills.

It is refreshing to learn about someone like Boynton who see people for who they are and who they are trying to become, rather than outright judging them based on their criminal past. Second Chance Rentals has become very successful, and will likely see much expansion in the future.

Read the original article here.

Posted in Arizona |

Video Games Prescribed for Mental Health?


Games, word puzzles, and number puzzles have long been believed to help improve memory and concentration. There is a huge market of “brain fitness” games that claim to make our brains better, faster, smarter. Whether the games really do what they claim to do is up for debate, but the brain game market is booming nevertheless. Now, startup company Alkili claims they have a game developed that will go farther than the rest of the brain games available; Alkili claims their game will help treat psychiatric disorders, including conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, and more. The company is so confident in the game’s therapeutic abilities that the game is going to go through the full range of clinical trials so that it may get approval from the Food and Drug Administration as a medical device. Alkili believes that someday games may replace pharmaceutical drugs as treatment for certain people struggling with mental illness.

If the game is approved by the FDA, and if it does in fact help treat psychiatric disorders, the ramifications of this could be astonishing. Children who struggle with psychiatric disorders or mental illness in childhood are likely to have the same struggles as adults, especially if they don’t receive proper and timely treatment. Mentally ill adults and adults suffering from psychiatric disorders are more likely than the general public to become entangled in the justice system, and possibly find themselves in jail. Many parents are hesitant to give young children pharmaceutical drugs, which have side effects, but most parents have no qualms against letting their child play a video game. If effective, the game could be a tool that may help improve mental health for the long term.

It will take several years and lots of money before the game is finished with clinical trials. If approved, Alkili has several more similar games in the works that may be effective treatment tools as well.

Read the original article here.

Posted in Mental Health Defenses |