As demand for home-share program grows, more strangers move in together - Mountain Times (2024)

By Juliet Schulman-Hall/VTDigger

Hidden among the trees of Forest Road in St. George, two strangers, 40 years apart in age, began sharing a home.

Carol Blakely, a retired teacher in her 70s and mother of four, once had a house full of people. But her children grew up and moved out, and her husband died, leaving only her 11-year-old French-Canadian cat named Poppy with her at the house.

That was until August, when Katie Bailey, 32, moved in.

Blakely and Bailey became housemates through an increasingly popular program run by the nonprofit HomeShare Vermont, which screens and pairs Vermonters (also known as “hosts”) who have stable housing but need assistance — financial or otherwise — with “guests” who are searching for affordable housing.

As housing prices skyrocket and living options remain scarce, HomeShare Vermont can’t find enough hosts to meet the demand of guest applications.

“We typically have three to four times as many people looking for housing as we have people willing to share their homes,” said Kirby Dunn, the organization’s executive director.

HomeShare Vermont currently serves Addison, Chittenden, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille, Orange and Washington counties. The organization matches “hosts” and “guests” based on the lifestyle of the applicants, personal preferences and needs.

In an attempt to incentivize new Burlington homeowners to become hosts through HomeShare Vermont, the Burlington City Council last month unanimously approved a yearlong pilot program. The program allocates $1,000 to 30 hosts over the course of 12 months.

HomeShare Vermont is seeking $30,000 from the Burlington Housing Trust Fund to pay for the program. The trust is expected to decide on the request by early December.

“We’re trying to really encourage more people to share their homes especially, you know, with the downturn in the economy that might be something that people want to think about doing,” Dunn said.
Dunn said she’s recently noticed an increase in the number of younger individuals applying to become hosts.

At the same time, however, she said that HomeShare is competing with the short-term rental market, which has the potential to offer more lucrative returns to those opening up their houses.

Blakely said she decided to apply to host not because she needed help or extra cash but because she thought it was “silly” to have her house vacant when so many people need affordable housing.

“I mean, if Katie were my daughter, I wouldn’t want her honestly going and living with somebody on Craigslist,” Blakely said.

Bailey struggled to line up housing when moving from Chicago for a nine-month lecturer position at the University of Vermont. The most affordable option that she could find online for a studio apartment that “didn’t look like it would have bedbugs” would cost more than half her income after taxes, she said.

She learned about HomeShare Vermont through Teresa Mares, then-interim chair of UVM’s anthropology department.
Mares said she has seen graduate students and faculty struggling to secure housing, especially if they have a limited time period to do so. Several years ago, before she was married and had children, Mares looked into the home share program for herself because of how expensive it is to live in Chittenden County.

HomeShare Vermont allows hosts to charge up to $650 in monthly rent in Chittenden County and $550 elsewhere in the state.
In practice, however, many hosts charge far less. The average rent, which has increased 18% since 2018, was $340 in fiscal year 2022, according to the organization.

In contrast, the median monthly rent in Vermont in 2021 was $1,115, according to Census data.

There’s no cost to apply to HomeShare Vermont. However, if a pair is successfully matched, both parties are charged a one-time fee between $60 and $500 depending on income.

On paper, Blakely and Bailey’s HomeShare agreement is a purely financial exchange, with Bailey paying the maximum rent of $650. Blakely lives on the first floor while Bailey occupies the second, allowing both to have their own space without feeling like they have to socialize constantly, something the two brought up to each other when they first matched and met up online.
Nevertheless, Bailey said she takes care of Poppy, sometimes with the help of a neighbor, when Blakely leaves to visit her children.
In the few months Blakely and Bailey have shared a home, they have visited an orchard together and shared meals. Blakely has even introduced Bailey to the world of Vermont creemees.

“It’s great to have a presence in the house,” said Blakely, who has lived alone for the past 15 years. “There’s no expectations, but I know if something came up or whatever, or I was, I don’t know, sick for some reason, or broke my foot … there’s somebody around.”

In two-thirds of HomeShare Vermont arrangements, the guest provides some amount of assistance to the host — which could include grocery shopping or bringing the host’s pet to the veterinarian, for example.

These pairings often involve aging hosts who need help with daily tasks. Vermont has the second highest median age — about 43 years — in the nation, according to Census data, andhome health care staffing shortagescontinue to be a problem.

Although HomeShare Vermont receives a lot of calls from people in need of a nursing home or 24/7 care, Dunn said the organization’s program isn’t intended to meet those kinds of intensive needs.

In Stowe, 63-year-old HomeShare guest Gretchen Mills pays no rent in exchange for providing companionship and cooking meals for 89-year-old Hesterly Black.

The pair has lived together since September and plan to continue doing so throughout Black’s life, depending on her health.
Mills, who moved to Vermont earlier this year from Northern California, said she needed to minimize her housing costs to be able to launch a leadership development agency.

Black, meanwhile, had been thinking about applying to HomeShare “for quite a long time,” after one of her children brought her a brochure for the program several years ago.

She started to have difficulty walking, or, in her words, became less “frisky.”

“I’ve been living alone for quite a long time and at my age I was concerned if something actually happened to me, nobody would know about it for quite a while,” Black said. HomeShare’s process of background checks and interviews gave her the assurance she needed that she wasn’t letting a total stranger into her house.

So far, she and Mills have been living together seamlessly, with Mills making most meals, including her favorite dish of pork with a chutney sauce.

Although there are some geographical divides, including Black raising an eyebrow to Mills’ morning avocado toast — which Black concluded was a California invention — the two have enjoyed cooking and eating meals.

“Often we make it together, and we always eat together. So it’s just lovely to have that kind of cadence to a day,” Mills said.
In three months of living together, they have introduced each other to their families, taken a day trip to Burlington and made outings to a craft fair and Smuggler’s Notch.

Black’s three-bedroom home is filled with animals, including an African grey parrot, two dogs, a Gloster canary named Donald for the tuft of hair on his head and a beta fish named Liberace due to his flowing fins.

“I have animals — I’ve always had animals — so Gretchen has had to deal with it,” Black said with a mischievous smile.
Mills doesn’t seem to mind. In fact, she said the moment that she realized it was a perfect fit was when she was sitting in Black’s living room with the dogs sprawled out across her lap, listening to Black and her daughter name the species of birds flying to the feeders.

Living with Black, she said, has “felt like home.”

As demand for home-share program grows, more strangers move in together - Mountain Times (2024)

FAQs

What is an example of home sharing? ›

A lonely widow living in a two-bedroom luxury apartment may choose to share her apartment with a recently retired woman who can no longer afford her apartment and is looking for companionship.

What is the meaning of home sharing? ›

Home sharing is a living arrangement in which two or more unrelated people share a house or apartment. A home share program provides a service that helps to match a person who has an extra room or separate unit available (a provider) with a seeker who is looking for a place to live.

What is the New York Foundation for Seniors home Sharing Program? ›

Free of charge and the only service of its kind in New York City, New York Foundation for Senior Citizens' Home Sharing Program is a matching service that pairs “hosts” who have extra private spaces in their houses or apartments to share with responsible, compatible “guests” seeking suitable housing.

What is a shared house in Pennsylvania? ›

Shared Housing and Resource Exchange (SHARE) is an affordable housing choice that brings together homeowners who want to share their home with home seekers who are looking for housing in exchange for rent, help around the house, or a combination of both.

What does Home Sharing allow? ›

You can use Home Sharing to access your media library across computers that are on the same Wi-Fi network. And you can stream music, movies and TV shows from one authorised computer to another. Make sure your computers are turned on, awake and have the Music app or iTunes for Windows open.

What are the advantages of sharing your home with other members of the family? ›

The Pros of Shared Homeownership with Family
  • Financial Feasibility. The primary advantage of shared homeownership is its financial feasibility. ...
  • Shared Responsibilities. Owning a home brings many responsibilities, from paying the mortgage to maintaining the property. ...
  • Emotional Support and Community.
Aug 8, 2023

Is Home Sharing the same as Family Sharing? ›

Home Sharing is about syncing media between devices, whereas Family Sharing is about sharing purchases between accounts. With Family Sharing, you can sync your purchases on the App Store, Apple TV, and even Apple Music with five other accounts — be they friends or family.

What happens if I turn off Home Sharing? ›

What happens when you stop sharing? Your Apple ID is removed from the family group and you won't have access to any services shared by your family, such as an Apple Music family subscription or a shared iCloud storage plan.

What is the meaning of Family Sharing? ›

With Apple's Family Sharing feature, users can share content, subscriptions, purchases and storage with friends and family members. The feature works across Apple devices — iPhone, iPads and Mac, and allows up to 6 people to be part of the group.

What New Deal program helps elderly? ›

The Social Security Act passed in 1935 and provided direct aid for the destitute elderly and a pension program for many, but far from all, workers. It also provided federal funding for state-operated unemployment insurance programs, as well as aid for the handicapped and for mothers with dependent children.

What age is senior housing in NY? ›

You can get information about housing options for older adults, including: Affordable housing for older adults age 62 and older with low income. Nursing homes, adult homes, assisted living, and enriched housing for older adults who are age 60 or older and frail or living with Alzheimer's, dementia, or disabilities.

Which of the following programs provides home delivered meals to seniors? ›

Home food delivery is available from food banks, food pantries, or your local Meals on Wheels program.

What is the difference between a social residence and a share house? ›

Social Residence® is a registered trademark of Oakhouse, and is a new re-definition of the share house concept. It's not only about living but also enjoying, learning, and growing with opportunities like workshops and events presented by residents in the house.

Can siblings share a room in PA? ›

THere is no law in PA that prohibits opposite sex siblings from sharing the same room.

How many unrelated tenants can occupy a house in PA? ›

Landlords violating the Three Unrelated Persons Rule two times or more in any three-year period will immediately have all licenses and certifications associated with the property revoked. This includes the landlord's Housing Rental License, which is required to collect rent.

What is Home Sharing vs family sharing? ›

Home Sharing is about syncing media between devices, whereas Family Sharing is about sharing purchases between accounts. With Family Sharing, you can sync your purchases on the App Store, Apple TV, and even Apple Music with five other accounts — be they friends or family.

What is a house share like? ›

Flat or house sharing is commonly defined as two or more people living in accommodation together. Usually each person will have their own bedroom and typically they will share certain communal areas such as kitchens, bathrooms or living rooms.

Where do I find Home Sharing? ›

Set Up Home Sharing on Your Mac
  1. Open System Preferences > Sharing > Media Sharing.
  2. Give your library a recognizable name.
  3. Select the checkbox for Home Sharing.
  4. Enter your Apple ID credentials. You'll need to use this same Apple ID for every computer or device on your Home Sharing network. ...
  5. Click Turn On Home Sharing.
Apr 20, 2021

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