TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — One transitional home in Tucson is taking a different approach to get formerly incarcerated people back on their feet. The founder used to be in prison himself and is giving a second chance to those who need it.
“My criminal background started when I was nine, I was on probation until I was eleven years old, and then got rearrested at 15, 17.”
At the age of 18, Daniel Howe faced 70 years in prison for attempted murder.
“At that point, I saw something needed to change,” Howe said.
Howe got out of prison early and dedicated his life to helping people like him. In 2016, he started the Earnest House, a transitional home in South Tucson that does things a little differently.
“There’s no forced meetings, they provide you everything you ask for in terms of direction or employment,” said Matthew Kitaj, formerly incarcerated.
The Earnest House requires clients to do drug tests, chores, and meet a curfew. But unlike other transitional housing, it doesn’t mandate counseling or group therapy.
“We want them to go out into the community as opposed to sitting in a group, talk about their struggles, those are often triggers for some people,” Howe said.
There are three homes with 27 clients. These transitional homes not only provide shelter but a supportive community. Each one has a formerly incarcerated house manager who helps clients reintegrate into society, and find jobs.
“The experience has been so self-rewarding, its really helped me with my own recovery to help them with their recovery,” said Jennifer Yehling, House Manager.
“We use the house computers so individuals can get on, search for who’s hiring in their specific trade,” said John Lowther, House Manager. “Here’s your bus, this will get you there, take one of the bikes, anything we can do to help them in that extra step.”
Clients can also temporarily work in a kettle corn trailer to make money at holiday parties and street fairs. Today, the Earnest House has guided thousands of homeless Tucsonans into their own apartments and careers.
“It means even really goofy people like me can find a place in society still and manage stay sober while doing it,” Kitaj said.
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