Seniors And Younger Adults Find Benefits In Being Roommates

Finding a compatible roommate is a challenge many college students face. But even with the perfect roommate, the nationwide housing shortage and skyrocketing rents are making it harder than ever for students, whose budgets are typically modest, to find rentals they can afford — if they can find them at all. Similarly, many older adults whose incomes are limited to retirement funds and Supplemental Security Income are struggling amid soaring inflation.

Living with family members is a compromise many people of all ages are making, but it’s not always an option. For some, intergenerational housing arrangements are the next best thing.

What Is Intergenerational Home Sharing?

Although many older adults have limited incomes, they also have extra room in their homes. Renting out that space to a younger adult provides numerous benefits to both parties.

Housing becomes more affordable for the landlord and the tenant. Each person gains companionship and someone to look out for them. Seniors may be able to live independently and stay in their homes longer, while young adults can now afford to reside in safer areas.

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“People want to continue living in their homes, and people are living longer and retiring later,” Andy Gaines, the executive director of Ashby Village, told the Desert Sun. Ashby Village is a nonprofit that partnered with the University of California, Berkeley on a home-sharing program. “And oftentimes as people retire from the workforce and their friends and family die or move away, they are left more isolated.”

Matching retirees with college roomies can also boost mental well-being for both. Older adults are prone to loneliness and isolation, which can lead to increased health issues such as dementia and heart failure. And in a recent survey by Boston University, half of the students screened positive for depression or anxiety, while two-thirds struggle with loneliness and feelings of isolation.

“With young adults and older adults feeling the most isolated, connecting them is the right thing to do,” Donna Butts, executive director of D.C.-based Generations United, which focuses on programs and policies that connect generations, told the Washington Post.

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How Do You Find An Intergenerational Roommate?

Intergenerational home sharing isn’t for everyone. But for seniors who want to open their homes and younger adults looking for affordable housing with a stable, mature roommate, several companies and organizations can help find the best match.

“We don’t try to convince people to home-share,” Karen Coppock, director of the nonprofit Home Match San Francisco, told AARP. “We try to make it easier for the ones who already want to.”

Some of the organizations are local to a city or region. Following are a few location-specific matching services.

  • Odd Couples Housing: Active in the Greater St. Louis, Missouri and Denver, Colorado metro areas, this subscription service helps homeowners determine which seekers may be the best match based on questionnaires.
  • New York Foundation for Senior Citizens (NYFSC) Home SharingThis free program helps link adult “hosts” with appropriate adult “guests” to share their space in the New York City area. One of the roommates must be 60 or older.
  • Affordable Living for the Aging Shared HousingThis Los Angeles-based program screens, matches and monitors senior homeowners and housing seekers based on living preferences and compatibility. Aside from a $15 background check fee, this service is free.

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Some organizations that provide intergenerational roommate matching services across the country include:

  • NesterlyThis paid service handles screening, leases and payments with the support of real people. Along with a one-time booking fee, Nesterly charges 2.5% of monthly rent for ongoing use of its platform.
  • SilvernestThis home-sharing platform uses an algorithm to match hosts and home seekers. The Essential plan is free (with background checks available for $29.99) and a premium subscription with more benefits is also available.

You can also check the National Shared Housing Resource Center (NSHRC) Program Directory to see if any home-sharing programs are available in your area.

Would you consider intergenerational home sharing as an option?