New Website and App Helps Set Up Homeless People With Housing

iStock.com/Lana2011
iStock.com/Lana2011

Transitioning from homelessness to affordable housing is rarely a smooth process, but a new platform aims to make it a little easier. As Fast Company reports, Lease Up is an app and website designed to connect landlords to caseworkers looking to place people without homes in apartments in Los Angeles.

Lease Up, a project from the nonprofit People Assisting The Homeless (PATH), resembles a regular real estate search app. Case managers can narrow down results based on factors like bedroom size and proximity to spots like health clinics and grocery stores. On the other end, landlords can list an available apartment, and after it's been inspected, they're paid a holding fee of up to $1100 as an incentive to set it aside for a homeless client. The payment comes from a Los Angeles sales tax recently passed to help fund services for the homeless.

The platform offers a few advantages over the conventional way of doing things. Instead of juggling calls from multiple caseworkers before finding a tenant, Lease Up streamlines the process for landlords, and they can use the website and app as a customer service resource if they have any questions. In addition, listings are updated in real time, which can save time and frustration for case managers looking to find homes for their clients as quickly as possible.

By making it more convenient to list apartments, the team behind Lease Up hopes to get more landlords involved in programs that provide housing to homeless people. They aim to get at least 2000 listings uploaded to their database in 2019.

[h/t Fast Company]

Friday’s Best Amazon Deals Include Digital Projectors, Ugly Christmas Sweaters, and Speakers

Amazon
Amazon
As a recurring feature, our team combs the web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, December 4. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

Google Is Tracking Everything You Do With Its ‘Smart’ Features—Here’s How to Make That Stop

Maybe you don't want Google seeing how many exclamation points you use in your emails.
Maybe you don't want Google seeing how many exclamation points you use in your emails.
Taryn Elliott, Pexels

Since we don’t all have personal assistants to draft emails and update our calendars, Google has tried to fill the void with ‘smart’ features across Gmail, Google Chat, and Google Meet. These automatic processes cover everything from email filtering and predictive text to notifications about upcoming bills and travel itineraries. But such personalized assistance requires a certain amount of personal data.

For example, to suggest email replies that match what you’d choose to write on your own—or remind you about important emails you’ve yet to reply to—Google needs to know quite a bit about how you write and what you consider important. And that involves tracking your actions when using Google services.

For some people, Google’s helpful hints might save enough time and energy to justify giving up full privacy. If you’re not one of them, here’s how to disable the ‘smart’ features.

As Simplemost explains, first open Gmail and click the gear icon (settings) in the upper right corner of the page. Select ‘See all settings,’ which should default to the ‘General’ tab. Next to ‘Smart Compose,’ ‘Smart Compose personalization,’ and ‘Smart Reply,’ choose the ‘Off’ options. Next to ‘Nudges,’ uncheck both boxes (which will stop suggestions about what emails you should answer or follow up on). Then, switch from the ‘General’ tab to ‘Inbox’ and scroll down to ‘Importance markers.’ Choose ‘No markers’ and ‘Don’t use my past actions to predict which messages are important.’

Seeing these settings might make you wonder what other information you’ve unwittingly given Google access to. Fortunately, there’s a pretty easy way to customize it. If you open the ‘Accounts’ tab (beside ‘Inbox’) and choose ‘Google Account settings,’ there’s an option to ‘Take the Privacy Checkup.’ That service will walk you through all the privacy settings, including activity tracking on Google sites, ad personalization, and more.

[h/t Simplemost]