Most homesharers are matched with a suitable person by an organised homeshare programme.
Programmes are diverse in terms of how they operate. Some are run by charities or other not-for-profit agencies, while others are businesses. Applicants usually pay a fee to the homeshare programme to cover administrative costs. This may be an introductory fee or may be a monthly payment.
In most homeshare programmes the co-ordinators screen potential candidates, match them skilfully, negotiate a contract between the two people, monitor the outcome and provide ongoing support to both parties. This is generally termed the ‘counselling model’ or ‘match-up programs’ in the USA. Other programmes interview applicants and suggest matches, and it is then up to the applicants to take the arrangements forward (the ‘referral’ model). Many USA programmes offer both approaches.
Homeshare is usually seen as a free exchange of services, though in some programmes homesharers pay a modest rent for their room. Typically however the homesharers get free accommodation and in return they are contracted to provide a specified number of hours of support: ten hours per week is usual in the UK, while in Germany the hours of support are related to the size of the homesharer’s room.