The history of homeshare

Homeshare has its roots in the USA where the late Maggie Kuhn (founder of the Gray Panthers) set up the first programmes in 1972.

In the UK, homeshare was taken up in the early 1980s by the late Nan Maitland, who in 1993 launched the first formal programme, in London. In Europe, it is believed that the concept of homeshare was invented quite independently in Spain, where, in 1991 the Alojamiento por Compañia programme was set up in Granada to meet an urgent need for student accommodation.

By 1992 the idea had been adopted in Germany where the award-winning Wohnen für Hilfe programme was founded by Professor Anne-Lotte Kreickemeier in Darmstadt, again to meet the need for student accommodation. There are now several programmes in Germany.

In 1999 Nan Maitland launched Homeshare International (HI) to foster the concept more widely. Homeshare programmes in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, were launched in 2000 as a direct result of Homeshare International’s work.

In France, ensemble2générations, founded in 2006 in the Paris area, has now spread to other parts of the country. By 2013 pilot programmes were being developed in Japan, the first such programmes in Asia.

The concept has now been adopted in many parts of the world – see the list of programmes. There have been failures too – in Israel and the Czech Republic in the 1990s for example.

The growth of national associations

Some countries have seen the development of homeshare associations to support programmes locally and to spearhead further development. They are:

Australia – the Homeshare Australia and New Zealand Alliance (HANZA)

Germany – Wohnen für Hilfe

USA – the National Shared Housing Resource Center

UK – the UK Homeshare Association is run by Shared Lives Plus