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Coast Hills

HomeShare SLO Matches Roomates To Help Solve Issue Of Affordable Housing

by User Not Found
January 17, 2019
ShareHome SLO Check Presentation
For one retired veteran in San Luis Obispo, a $600 monthly Social Security check was all he had to survive on. And unfortunately, most of that income was swallowed up by the costs associated with home ownership.

Then he heard about HomeShare SLO — a grassroots organization that exists to help people find each other.

With their help, he was matched with a gentleman struggling to find affordable housing.  
For both, it was a win-win. The veteran practically doubled his income and the other man finally found a place to call home. Not only that but because HomeShare SLO is dedicated to making good matches, they were so compatible they developed a strong friendship which boosted their overall quality of life.

Affordable housing is a hot topic across the Central Coast, but especially in San Luis Obispo County where the average monthly rent for a studio or one-bedroom apartment can run well over $1,000. And even for those who own their homes outright, the costs of utilities, taxes, and general upkeep can run a similar tab. 

It’s easy to do the math and see how this is a serious problem for people with limited income.

Seniors are especially at risk for falling through the cracks. Many rely solely on Social Security, which brings in an average of just over $1,000 per month. And, it’s not uncommon for them to be alone due to life events — such as the spouse passing away and the children moved away to start their own families — so that income is all they have. That amount is barely enough to cover rent or maintain their home, so they struggle with basic necessities like food and healthcare.                                      

That’s where HomeShare SLO comes in. Home sharing is a movement gaining popularity across the country as costs of living continue to rise by offering an innovative — but simple — solution. 

Their primary mission is to create affordable housing options by using unused space in existing homes, but they also seek to help people age in place and with dignity by targeting seniors.

How does it work?

First, someone signs up to offer a room in their house. HomeShare looks at the room, discusses options for partitioning space to maintain privacy as needed, and recommends an appropriate rent for what they’re sharing and for what the pool of room seekers can afford. 

HomeShare SLO screens applicants and provides background checks to ensure the safety of those they serve.

When it seems like two people might be a good match, HomeShare SLO facilitates the getting-to-know-you phase. They provide a comprehensive list of questions for the pair to go over on a phone call to gauge compatibility. 

If the pair would like to move forward, the next step is to meet in person, and if that rapport is still there, the seeker visits the home. HomeShare  SLO even recommends a trial period where the prospective roommate spends a night or two. If the pair is comfortable and ready to commit, HomeShare SLO provides a “Living Together Agreement” lease template specific to home sharing. Since most participants have little to no roommate experience, the agreement includes specifics such as agreeing on quiet hours, where to park, partitioning of storage and refrigerator space, chores, and so forth.  

Since launching in early 2017, HomeShare SLO has facilitated 30 matches, and the results speak for themselves. On average, the person providing the room takes in an additional $8,000 each year while the roommate stands to save saves about $4,500 — that amounts to $12,500 annually that can improve their lives and benefit the greater community. Not to mention the benefits that come with companionship. 

Because HomeShare SLO is such a new organization, they need help from the community to get the word out. They visit organizations and senior centers, post flyers in public places, and keep an active presence on their Facebook. Sometimes it can be a challenge to find the people that need their services the most, so they’ve started hosting regular informational gatherings at local coffee shops. CoastHills’ $500 Community Action Sponsorship will go a long way in helping their outreach efforts so they can focus on bringing people together. 

Those interested in learning more about HomeShare SLO can check out their website, or call (805) 215-5474.
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