2008-06-13 / Community

Younger Locals Respond to Home Sharing Program

Younger New Yorkers have responded to New York Foundation for Senior Citizens' expanded Home Sharing Program, a unique affordable housing option and free matching service, which has recently allowed younger "hosts" under the age of 60 to share their homes with older "guests." In the past, hosts were required to be 60 and over and adult guests 18 and over. Thirteen younger hosts with extra bedrooms in their homes are ready to be matched with "guests" over the age of 60; one match has already been made.

"Now that we are welcoming the participation of younger New Yorkers as hosts, we find that many do indeed want to share their homes with independent, self-sufficient older persons who will contribute toward household expenses and also provide social benefits," says Linda Hoffman, President, New York Foundation for Senior Citizens. "For older guests, moving in with a younger person, couple or family, will provide them with an affordable and comfortable living arrangement."

In addition to the financial benefit of shared living, some potential younger hosts express a desire to help seniors who need affordable housing as a reason for applying for Home Sharing. "There are people in need and I want to help," says Mary Croney, a 54-year-old retired nurse's aide who resides in Far Rockaway with her husband. Carol Smith, a 50-year-old part-time insurance saleswoman, who owns a large four unit home in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, believes that "older people are respectful and can also be fun."

Anita Lipscomb, a 45-year-old divorced teacher, who owns her own home in Rosedale, Queens, is about to become an empty nester. Her daughter will leave for college soon and her son is in the military. "Besides looking forward to the companionship of an older guest, I believe there are older people who need affordable, safe homes. It's a humanitarian issue with me," she says.

The Home Sharing staff recently made its first match between a younger host and older guest. They matched a 43-year-old woman with three extra bedrooms in her Brooklyn home with a 70-year-old man who was forced to give up his Harlem apartment because the apartment building was sold. The new guest had previously been a Home Sharing host.

Here is how New York Foundation for Senior Citizens' Home Sharing Program works: Home Sharing helps adult "hosts" in all five boroughs with extra bedrooms in their homes or apartments locate appropriate adult "guests" to share their space.

One of the matchmates must be age 60 or over. Professional social workers carefully screen applicants and conduct in-depth interviews to determine compatibility of potential hosts and guests and help to facilitate and implement matches. Prior to moving in, the program offers a license agreement to help hosts and guests clarify the terms of their shared living arrangements. Once the match is made, the staff continues to provide follow-up services. Guests contribute toward hosts' monthly household expenses and, in some cases, provide household help or other services in exchange for reduced payment. Benefits to both hosts and guests include easing financial burdens, reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness and providing companionship and a sense of security.

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