There are currently over 40 homeshare programs across the USA, a handful of which have been around for over 30 years. Each program is independent from the others and may operate a bit differently.
Who benefits from the programs?
Over the past six decades, the average physical size of the American home has increased dramatically while the number of people living in that home has decreased. Housing costs have increased much faster than wages while the number of working age people continues to decline as the population ages. In many parts of the country housing is unaffordable whether rented or owned. At no time in human history have so many people lived alone; recent studies show negative health effects from social isolation and loneliness. Americans are living longer and healthier lives resulting in a growing older population in need of new types of housing arrangements.
Homesharing programs offer a unique and common sense approach to address these trends. Homesharing can help seniors to age in place, help people with disabilities to be more independent, and help low and moderate income people to find or keep very affordable housing. Data shows positive health outcomes for those who share their homes and major economic benefits to both homeshare providers and homesharers alike.
Programs in the USA
Even with these myriad benefits, homeshare programs are few and far between across the USA. The National Shared Housing Resource Center (NSHRC) has an online directory listing the various programs by state (www.nationalsharedhousing.org). The NSHRC, run by experienced volunteers, is a clearinghouse of information for people looking to find a program in their community. NSHRC is dedicated to expanding the availability of programs around the USA.
What does the exchange involve?
Some programs in the USA are focused just on housing so they have no formal service requirements, just sharing household expenses. Even in these programs the home provider (householder) benefits from informal companionship and having someone there. Others programs allow people to ask for some help around the home in exchange for reduced or no rent. Every homesharing match is different depending on the needs and interests of the parties involved.
How do the programs operate?
Some match-up programs simply offer a referral service; others offer a matching service and follow a homesharing arrangement from its beginning to its termination. Most programs are operated by non-profit agencies or organizations; however this does not always apply.
How are they funded?
Each program has different sources of revenue which may include government and foundation grants, fees from participants, donations and fundraising.
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