BY SELMA JACKSON
What’s old becomes new again. Remember when you moved to New York or you heard stories from your parents about moving to New York? Your relatives would read every letter that you sent back home. They were so intrigued they would ask if they could come to New York and follow in the family members’ footsteps. The family would say sure come on up and stay with us until you can get on your feet. Sometimes you had an extra room or you just made room available in your place to give an opportunity to another family member. That seemed so long ago—bygone days! That was when we were starting out; now in our twilight years, we need that family-friendly support again.
Then I heard the term Home Sharing and I said hmmm! Lo and behold, it’s just a new name and repurposing what we did for family in days gone by!! But now that families are distances apart and individuals are not interested in relocating how do we serve a population in need?
Home Sharing is a program of the New York Foundation for Senior Citizens who have partnered with the Age-Friendly Neighborhood Advisory Board, a group of local leaders whose mission is to help older adults age in place. “For seniors who can no longer afford to remain in their homes, Home Sharing can be an affordable option that will allow them to remain in their community and maintain the ties that bind: friends, church and familiar places of business,” says Richard Trouth, Executive Director of Brooklyn Neighborhood Services. Trouth, along with Michelle Grimes of Quincy Senior Residence and Kenya Johnson of Benenson Capital Partners, are the committee members focused on addressing the housing needs of seniors.
How did they get to this point?
- Older adults live on a fixed income, and in most cases, just Social Security.
- The cost of living has outpaced the minor increases in Social Security. Seniors find themselves choosing between rent, medicine or food. Their income does not always cover these three basics.
- An 18% increase in property taxes on homes is challenging to many older adults. In some cases, properties have been taken over by the government for nonpayment.
- Some have applied for senior housing, which offers affordable rents, but the waiting lists are long, as many as three or four years. This waiting list delay is attributed to the baby boomers, coupled with longer life spans of the greatest generation, who are living into their nineties or becoming centurions!!
- Finally, family members aren’t around or they are the only surviving member of the family.
For all of the above reasons, Home Sharing becomes a way for individuals who are at risk of losing their residences to remain in a community they call home or have a reentry into Bed-Stuy.
How does this work? Home Sharing is a match of hosts and guests. The hosts are individuals who have extra space either in a home or apartment. They are willing to share with compatible guests.
The guests are individuals who can no longer afford their present housing accommodations. Both hosts and guests are interviewed individually by Home Sharing staff, which includes social workers. Included in the interviews will be financial assessment and social interactions. Think of this as a “marriage”. After hosts and guests are interviewed there is a meeting of both groups and the matches are developed from that meeting.
What does the Home Sharing provide?
¤ Companionship for host and guest
¤ Ability for guests to remain in a longtime neighborhood that feels like home
¤ Affordable rent for guests and modest income for hosts
How can you participate as a host or guest?
- If you know someone in need of housing please share this information.
- If you have space at your residence please consider offering a guest an opportunity in your home.
- Communities continually work at being connected. Home Sharing reminds us to take care of our own.
For more information or to sign up for the Home Sharing program, please call (718) 919-2100 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.