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HomeShare program: What is it?

2007 Grant reduc's DR13
Suzan Krecsy, executive director of the St. Albert Community Village and Food Bank. DAN RIEDLHUBER/St. Albert Gazette

HomeShare is a match-up program that connects home providers with individuals who are looking for a place to live. Tailored agreements are created in which homeowners provide accommodation at a reduced or nominal rent to an individual in exchange for both companionship and assistance with household tasks. While home sharing is not for everyone, it can meet the needs of many and this is why the St. Albert Housing Coalition is looking at introducing this concept through an information sharing session to the residents of St. Albert.

HomeShare programs strive to meet identified needs within their own communities. Once the needs are identified the program develops and implements guidelines for the operation of the program and manages the applications which include screening, matching and providing support.

In St. Albert, a potential aim of the HomeShare program would be to enable older folks to remain independent in their own homes by finding a housemate who is willing to cost-share expenses and/or help with the household tasks. Companionship is also an important benefit. For some, living alone may lead to isolation, declining health and mental health issues.

One of the principles of HomeShare Model: Homeshare Canada Network on Jan. 17, 2014, stated that the purpose was to increase options for older and vulnerable sector people to remain at home with independence and dignity while fostering intergenerational/interpersonal understanding and to provide an affordable housing option for home seekers. Another benefit could be that a HomeShare Program could help to keep people in the community they know and care for, rather than having to move out due to lack of affordable housing. People supporting each other offers a sense of purpose, value and self-esteem, knowing that someone else is in your home that you will be interacting with may be a motivating factor that can enhance your mental and physical well-being.

Reciprocity and mutual benefit form the basis of an effective HomeShare arrangement, which, when done properly can enhance the lives of both the homeowner and the home seeker. Both parties can enjoy shared interests and benefit from learning new skills and socialization. Students may be a group that would be seeking more affordable rents and would be willing to provide help around the house.

There are a few models that the St. Albert Housing Coalition can introduce to the community to see if there is an appetite for this type of approach.
The St. Albert Housing Coalition is offering an information session about Home Sharing on Feb. 3 from 1 p.m. to  2:30 p.m. at the St. Albert Public Library. This session is open to anyone who might be interested in learning more about Home Sharing. There will be information provided outlining existing models but there is always the opportunity to have a “made in St. Albert” model created if the community so desires. Please join us to find out more and to let us know what might appeal to you.

Suzan Krecsy is the director of the St. Albert Food Bank.