Criminal backgrounds can be a Catch-22

Recent funding has been passed to obtain housing for individuals with disabilities. However, people with felonies or sexual offenses on their records are often barred from obtaining public-housing assistance. As an intern case manager, I see the impact that felonies have on individuals and families. I see society’s concern, but there’s another side to this story.

Currently, it is nearly impossible to obtain housing without an appeal if you have an arrest or a felony on your record. If you have any type of sexual offense, you are further dropped to the bottom of the list or even banned from public housing. As a community member, I find it ironic that we want to prevent crime, yet crime often increases when basic necessities are not accessible to people. I am not saying that we can overlook every prior felony conviction, but that we can build additional supportive housing that will allow these individuals to continue to grow.

I have multiple clients who want to give back to the community, but do not know how, who want support, but lack it, and who want to succeed, but their pasts continue to haunt them.

Nora Hewson-Stech, St. Paul



My generation? Not slackers, just burdened

“Kids these days, what a lazy generation. Living in the basement of their parents’ homes, minimum-wage jobs with four-year degrees, spoiled.” Is this the stigma with which our generation has been labeled?

The Department of Labor shows that college tuition has experienced the most significant cost increases, more than health care and the consumer price index. At what point does someone step in — whether it is government leaders or the academic deans and presidents — and realize that there are too many post-grads who are in terrible situations of debt?

With the job market as highly competitive as it is today, there is a demand for young adults to obtain bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Because of this demand for higher education, employers have an absurd amount of supply to pick from. Our generation is caught not between a rock and a hard place, but between mounting piles of debt and a social stigma that labels them lazy and unambitious.

Danae Overby, Maplewood



Another young person gains his own coverage

My son, a 30-year-old musician, has never had health insurance of his own — until last week. He called, excitement in his voice, to say “I got my card!” Meaning that he had persevered (at the last hour, of course) and had gotten enrolled through Obamacare.

“I feel like an actual adult,” he added. At dinner that night, my wife and I felt our own huge sense of relief. We also know that health insurance for our son would never have happened without President Obama’s lead in Washington. It’s that simple. The fierce and continuing opposition to affordable health care — including the new MNsure “hearings” focused on Gov. Mark Dayton — will long be a stain on the Republican Party.

Will Weaver, Bemidji, Minn.

• • •

Former federal Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is the perfect canary in the coal mine (“Sebelius out after health care miscues,” April 11). She is the victim of “specialization paralyzes, hyperspecialization kills.” Have we figured out what the remote control for our TV has cost us in terms of our health? Every choice we make does have a trade-off!

Ruth Hruby, Montgomery, Minn.



Want a high-intensity workout? Mix it up.

I was tickled pink by the article about heart damage and extreme, long-distance running. I’ve seen firsthand the damage that too much running does to feet, knees, hips and backs. One plus one apparently isn’t two with this crowd, despite the doctor’s advice, because all they know how to do is run. Of course, some beat the odds and manage to stay injury-free, but they are a rare breed.

There are far more intense cardiovascular workouts than running that work the entire body. CrossFit zealots (count me in) may be embracing one of the smartest methods of exercise — if they listen to their bodies and don’t get too sucked in to the competitive component. High-intensity interval training is where it’s at.

It’s high time we stop rewarding people who destroy their bodies via repetitive stress movement and cost the health care system big bucks with surgeries and replacements. Also, the heart is a muscle, and like any other muscle, can be damaged via overuse. I challenge any marathoner to a “real” workout so they can see just how out of shape they are through their one-sided fitness regime. I’ve seen it countless times. They get mad and go back to running.

Tresa Sauer, Robbinsdale