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Independent Living: Home Share

What is home share for seniors?
Among the alternative housing options available, more seniors today are contemplating the concept of home share. Home share is exactly what the name suggests – sharing a home. People who are living on fixed incomes and want to maintain their independence while aging in place can rent out a spare bedroom in their home. This solution actually helps solve many problems. And nationwide home share organizations facilitate the process by screening potential boarders, conducting background checks and helping to find appropriate matches.

How does home share work?
Some home shares are simple room rental arrangements, while some are old-fashioned bartering agreements, such as those done by HomeShare Vermont, a nonprofit that’s nationally recognized by the Federal Administration on Aging (AoA) "where someone with a spare room in the home needs a little help, such as companionship, help with meals or simply a protective presence in the home, and is matched with someone who is looking for an affordable place to live and can offer an average of 10 hours a week of service.”

"Homesharing is an old-fashioned bartering arrangement where someone with a spare room in the home needs a little help … and is matched with someone who is looking for an affordable place to live." – HomeShare Vermont

In fact, this concept is expanding so rapidly that the organization saw a 28% increase in matches in 2008 over the year before. So whether the arrangement is for rent alone or rent and services, home share is becoming a popular choice for seniors. The current economic situation has also caused an increased numbers of seniors who want to stay in their homes to consider renting out a room.

Benefits of home share
According to, there are two home share seekers for every home share provider.  In addition to the financial benefits provided by home sharing, some of the greatest benefits of this arrangement are companionship and peace of mind. For example, a homeowner might not be able to drive, but still enjoys cooking – a skill the renter lacks. A home share arrangement works well since both people’s needs are met. It’s also an ease on the minds of family members, knowing their loved one is not constantly alone. Other benefits include:

  • Helping seniors remain independent and in their own home.
  • Providing security of having another person living in the home.
  • Helping offset costs of maintaining a residence.
  • Reducing living costs.
  • Providing a life-enriching experience for both parties.

Who uses home sharing?
Many seniors who own a home larger than they might need, and yet do not wish to relocate, may choose to rent one or several of those extra rooms out. People who might seek a home-share arrangement with an older adult include:

  • Student
  • Adult in the midst of career change
  • Single parent
  • Recently divorced or widowed person
  • Working adult or retired person unable to afford rent

Home share group homes

Some organizations extend the home share concept further and provide group homes that are shared living residences for groups of two to six individuals. Each home has two to six bedrooms, including quarters for a live-in resident manager. Average fees are $1,300 per month, which includes rent, meals, utilities and support services provided by the manager.

Whether a private residence or a group home, senior home share arrangements can benefit not only the elder, but also his or her family and the home sharer. It offers an alternative arrangement that can greatly enhance their lives, while at the same time, granting them peace of mind