2005-12-23 / Community

Free Home Sharing For Seniors Set

Splitting living space to save on rent is not just for Gen X’ers. A unique way for seniors 60 or over to offset housing costs and adults 18 and over to locate affordable housing throughout the city’s five boroughs is Home Sharing, a free matching service.

Home Sharing matches responsible, compatible “guests” ages 18 and over with “hosts” ages 60 and over who have extra private bedrooms in their homes or apartments to share. The program also matches hosts ages 55 and over with developmentally disabled adult guests capable of independent living.

New York Foundation for Senior Citizens administers the program and provides a professional social work staff that screen applicants, match hosts with compatible guests and offers follow-up services. A match is made once the host and guest agree to share living quarters. Guests can choose to pay a monthly living expense or provide household help or accompany the host to appointments in exchange for a reduced payment.

One match facilitated by the Foundation nearly two years ago is between 66 year-old Myrtle Wilkes and 31- year old Johanne Jean-Joseph, a student.

Johanne contributes $260 a month to household expenses in exchange for a room and shared common spaces. The relationship between Myrtle, Johanne and Myrtle’s 30-year old daughter Ivy, who also lives with them, has grown from a financial arrangement into a family.

“I needed help with my rent and Johanne is a responsible, very nice young woman. She and Ivy are friends; she has really become part of our family,” says Myrtle Wilkes.

Adds Johanne Jean-Joseph: “Living with Wilkes and her daughter makes me feel very secure and works for me financially while I am in school and working part-time. The key is respecting one another, giving each other space and resolving issues quickly when they come up. I invited Myrtle and Ivy to join my father and brother at my graduation. They are a second family to me.”

Home Sharing provides the following benefits to hosts and guests:

- Lower-than-market rents for living accommodations in New York City offsets some costs of maintaining a home

- Companionship helps relieve feelings of loneliness and isolation; it enables seniors to remain independent and in their own homes.

The Foundation’s highly successful Home Sharing Program helps older and younger adult New Yorkers alike by providing them with desperately needed affordable housing and easing their financial burdens.

“Over the years, the Foundation has found that a number of share mates have also experienced the benefits of true companionship and happier lives,” says Linda Hoffman, president of New York Foundation for Senior Citizens. “”New Yorkers can feel secure in applying for this service because of its outstanding track record of matching responsible, reliable hosts and guests as well as meeting their respective needs.”

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