Who runs the programme and where?

Granada University set up the first Alojamiento por Compañia (Homeshare) programme in Spain in 1991. It was launched by two social workers who worked in the ‘Centro de Atencion Social al Estudiante’. The International Year of ‘Solidarity Between Generations’ in 1993 resulted in information about Homeshare being disseminated all over Spain and many new programmes were created.

Programmes are run by many different organisations, eg universities, not-for-profit organisations, local or regional authorities (town halls, ‘Diputacion’, regional government departments). In most cases homeshare programmes are run jointly by different organisations, so that even though one organisation is responsible for the programme it requires services from other organisations.

We know of 16 programmes running in the following regions and cities:

Comunidad Autónoma de Andalucía:
Almería, Granada, Córdoba, Cádiz-Jerez de la Frontera , Málaga and Sevilla

Comunidad Autónoma de Canarias:
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Comunidad Autónoma de Castilla-La Mancha:

Comunidad Autónoma de Castilla-León:
León, Palencia, Segovia, Soria and Valladolid

Comunidad Autónoma de Catalunya:
Barcelona, L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, Salt, Reus, Girona, Lleida, Manresa, San Cugat, Cerdanyola, Tarragona, Terrassa and Vic

Comunidad Autónoma de Galicia:
Santiago de Compostela

Comunidad Autónoma de Madrid:

Comunidad Autónoma de Murcia:

Comunidad Autónoma del País Vasco:
Bilbao, San Sebastian

Comunidad Autónoma Valenciana:

Who benefits from the programmes?

Programmes are aimed at independent older people living in their own home and university students who need accommodation. Programmes occasionally include disabled people and single parents.

What does the exchange involve?

Householders provide free accommodation to the student in exchange for companionship and some help with household duties. The amount of help in each case is tailored to both parties’ needs upon mutual agreement. The co-ordinators emphasize to the elderly person that the programme is never a source of extra income for them but the arrangement is for mutual help. However, if the older person is considered not to have enough income, then in that case some financial help might be offered to pay for household bills such as electricity, water and gas supply. This additional financial allowance is provided either by the homesharer or by particular public/private organisations.

Students offer companionship in exchange for accommodation which is generally a bedroom in good condition for studying, plus shared use of kitchen and the living room. Some Spanish programmes offer their homesharers additional help by providing them with lunch vouchers, bus passes, full payment of enrolment fees, books for their courses, and so on. The students sometimes pay their householders for a proportion of household living expenses, such as water, electricity and gas. Some Spanish homeshare programmes include more dependent elderly people and their homesharers commit themselves to offer a certain amount of additional help, for which they receive an additional allowance from a public/social organisation.

Homesharers and householders do not contribute towards the running costs and service offered by the organisations involved in the programmes.

How do the programmes operate?

Householders must be older than 60 years and must be willing to share their own house with another person for mutual companionship. Elderly people from all income levels are eligible for the programme, but those with a low income have priority.

Homesharers must be enrolled at one of the universities which are running homeshare programmes and must be willing to offer companionship and/or care to the householder in return for accommodation. Students from all income levels are eligible for the programme, but those from low income families or with no housing allowance from the government have priority.

Promotional campaigns are aimed at university students and older people so that they each get to know the benefits of the programme. Personal interviews are held to select potential homesharers and householders. Householder are interviewed in their own homes to assess whether their housing conditions are suitable for homesharing. Once a programme selects candidates, it proceeds to match them and the new matches have a trial period. If they satisfactorily pass this trial period, they are followed up to ensure that objectives are fulfilled and to provide them continuing support and troubleshooting if necessary.

How are they funded?

All the Spanish programmes are jointly funded and their financial sources vary in each case depending on their partners. Programmes are mostly funded by universities, which provide the infrastructure and occasionally provide homesharers with lunch vouchers, bus passes and books. Some programmes might get financial support from local or regional authorities (regional government, Diputación, town hall). Finally, some homeshare programmes are funded by private organisations or by savings banks.

Does it work?

Homeshare programmes are succeeding in Spain and they are becoming increasingly popular and widespread all over the country. Spanish homeshare programmes emphasize the principles of ‘mutual help’ and ‘solidarity between generations’ as well as encouraging the quality of homesharing rather than the number of matches. Homeshare in Spain is more widespread and better established than anywhere else in Europe.