Homeshare and the public policy agenda

Homeshare fits well with the policy agendas of many different countries, where it:

  • supports older people in their own homes for longer, delaying or preventing the need for costly residential care
  • enables hospital discharge and prevents ‘bed-blocking’
  • provides low-cost accommodation for students, primarily in mainland Europe, where universities have increased their intake faster than their student housing programmes
  • provides affordable housing for key workers in expensive cities like London, UK
  • makes better use of housing stock – many older householders are ‘under-occupying’ their homes
  • contributes to solidarity between the generations (for example see the Centre for Intergenerational Practice)
  • contributes to strengthening local communities.

Despite the fact that homeshare meets so many policy aims, public authorities have been slow to adopt it. Some programmes are funded by government, for example in Australia, but others struggle with little or no public financial backing. In part this may be policy makers’ lack of awareness but another factor may be the perceived risk of homeshare. In the UK for example, policy makers are wary of enabling strangers to move in with vulnerable older people, even though there is no single documented case of abuse taking place.

The cost of running homeshare programmes may be another factor that limits the spread of the idea, though there is ample evidence that homeshare can be very cost effective in meeting the needs of older people.

Homeshare can bring two different generations together and support people with siginificant disabilities. These homesharers were matched by Solidarios in Madrid, Spain.

Homeshare can bring two different generations together and support people with significant disabilities. These homesharers were matched by the Solidarios programme in Madrid, Spain. Photo courtesy of Solidarios and Elena Chebanova (http://www.elenach.com)