Calgary Homeshare program unites students and seniors with housing

By Brent Constantin

Affordable housing is always an important issue for students in the city and a new initiative from the Calgary Seniors’ Resource Society looks to ease the problem with a unique partnership.

A new program called Calgary Homeshare launches this fall and hopes to match students with seniors in the community to both alleviate rent for those taking classes and assist elderly homeowners.

Program manager Sandra Rhead said Homeshare would draw from a pool of senior homeowners looking for a roommate and a pool of adult students interested in residing with a senior. The two would be matched based on needs and compatibility, then introduced to decide for themselves if the arrangement would work.

“There’s benefits to each party and that’s the real plus with this program,” said Rhead. “The homeowner should experience reduced costs of living and secure the support they may be interested in while the home seeker is accessing affordable accommodation in an area that might not have been otherwise available.”

In the initial stages of the program Rhead assembled a group of representatives from both senior and student communities, including the University of Calgary.

“I think it’s a unique program,” said Students’ Union vice-president student life Jennifer Abbott, who sits on the program committee. “It gives students affordable housing and seniors too. I don’t see why it couldn’t work here.”

Security is a major concern for the initiative with both parties subject to a screening process and students providing references.

“In the Homeshare situation there isn’t rent,” said Rhead. “Instead the student will be contributing to the cost of living in their shared arrangement.”

In exchange for free lodgings the students might assist the seniors with household tasks or in other ways agreed upon in an established contract. Students do not need to have any sort of caregiver or medical background to participate in the program.

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