Homesharing 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 homesharing meets so many policy aims, public authorities have been slow to adopt it. Some programmes are funded by government, for example in Australia and Korea, 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 homesharing. 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 homesharing can be very cost effective in meeting the needs of older people.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
Assessments of Shared Housing in the United States
HUD User publishes Insights into Housing and Community Development, a series of research papers examining a single topic or question in a concise format. Insights papers also offer recommendations relevant to policymakers and practitioners.
The June 2021 Insights paper Assessments of Shared Housing in the United States discusses various shared housing models, provides a brief history of shared housing in the U.S., describes the models and challenges of home sharing and co-living, and offers examples of federal and state initiatives in shared housing. The paper determines that the formal and informal shared housing arrangements across the U.S. offer a range of benefits to residents, such as reduced social isolation, access to areas of greater opportunity, and flexibility in housing stock during times when supply is tight. The researchers find that between 2000 and 2019 the number of households sharing housing has modestly increased, with home sharing and co-living being the most common arrangements.
Home sharing helps homeowners lower their housing costs while also providing an affordable housing option to low-income families and underserved households.
Housing constructed and designed specifically for co-living has become a rapidly growing sector of real estate markets and provides a convenient way for young professionals to move to a new city and live in communities with access to amenities and employment.
Visit HUD User’s Insights page to learn more about shared housing and other housing and community development issues.
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