HomeShare, a housing initiative bringing together seniors and post-secondary students as unconventional roommates, has begun a trial program in Peel Region.
The Canada HomeShare program, run by the National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly (NICE) in collaboration with Peel Region for this initiative, fills a critical gap in the housing market by connecting seniors who want to age in their own homes with young adults looking for an affordable place to live.
Seniors with spare rooms are linked through the trial program with post-secondary students in need of accommodation. Students pay between $400 and $600 in monthly rent and contribute five to seven hours of companionship and household assistance each week.
This includes assisting with light domestic activities such as errands, yard maintenance, technical and computer support, meal preparation, and pet walking.
“The program is scheduled to start in January 2022,” said Stewart Lazarus, communications specialist for Peel Region. “Although we don’t have any applicants on either side, we are hopeful that this program would be a success as we had very positive feedback from the seniors of the region.”
The idea actually came from the seniors who didn’t want to leave their homes for community living during a Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation solutions lab organized by Peel Region to discuss innovative and affordable housing solutions, Lazarus said.
Applications for home caregivers and students entering the Winter 2022 semester are now being accepted. NICE social workers oversee the entire process; from the application to identifying an appropriate HomeShare match while making sure arrangements are in accordance with the COVID-19 protocols.
A customized HomeShare agreement will be established for the home provider and student once a match has been made and all safety and security checks have been completed.
It’s actually beneficial for both seniors and students cohabitating with each other, said Kaikashan Fatima, a Sheridan College psychology student.
“It can be seen as a symbiotic existence as the elders can guide students regarding career decisions, jobs, etc., whereas students can help seniors with everyday activities such as groceries and hospital appointments,” Fatima said. “It’s a win-win for both.”
For numerous years, Canada HomeShare has been running successfully in Toronto. The program has seen a positive outcome for students and the seniors who have opened their home to them who get an additional source of income and help around the house.
Students are allowed to live in a safe and economical environment while students and home providers both learn from one other’s experiences.
In 2018, the City of Toronto launched the Toronto HomeShare Pilot Project. In 2021, the program, now known as Canada HomeShare, began testing its exchange-based co-housing model across the country. The HomeShare program is currently in trial phases in Toronto, Kingston, Peel Region, Calderon, and West Vancouver.
NICE is a global network of researchers, practitioners, students, and elders dedicated to improving the care of the elderly in Canada and around the world. Networking and knowledge transfer are the overriding focuses of NICE.