HomeShareSLO is launching a program this month to set up single seniors living on their own and looking for a roommate with compatible matches.
Celeste Goyer, operations director of HomeShareSLO, said the reason for establishing the program was to find sources of affordable housing for seniors who cannot afford to live on their own. According to the SLO County Commission on Aging, 38 percent of adults aged 65 years and older do not have enough income to meet their most basic needs within the county. Many seniors are living on their own with an unused room, and HomeShareSLO can step in to help them find a roommate.
“It benefits the home provider because they’re often single seniors, particularly single senior women who would not necessarily be comfortable placing a classified ad,” Goyer said.
The program does a background screening of the home provider as well as the potential roommate. Goyer said they have each party fill out a lifestyle preference questionnaire to match up potential housemates. The home provider can then select someone from a list of possible matches and the interview process begins. If the individuals are a match, they get to have a trial run. The roommate brings over a suitcase and tests out the living situation. When everything checks out, both parties sign a living agreement and HomeShareSLO checks in periodically by phone.
Goyer said that although the person interested in sharing their home is independently choosing who they want to live with, the program is there every step of the way to ensure it’s the right match.
Program Coordinator Anne Wyatt said she’s an example of the program as she’s currently sharing her home with a roommate.
“I mostly want to do my own thing 95 percent of the time; I’m just happy, quietly going about my business,” she said, “But 5 percent of the time I want to chat with someone or I need something, and in those cases, my roommate is there.”
Wyatt said a common misconception about having a roommate is that the home provider has to share everything from appliances to even room space. She said contrary to most roommate experiences, HomeShareSLO helps both parties establish house and privacy rules within their living agreement. This contract binds both roommates to a month-to-month renting agreement. Wyatt said if the match ends up not working out, the organization helps terminate the agreement as well.
HomeShareSLO is hosting two informational gatherings on Feb. 8. Interested community members should meet at Steynberg Gallery at 10:30 a.m. A luncheon for interested homeowners will also be hosted at Shalimar at 11:30 a.m. During the luncheon, Alan Prince will present a talk, Rebuild for Life: Senior Home Safety Solutions—a presentation about senior safety while living independently.