Shared housing program expands to match seniors and homesharers
Pennsylvania’s Shared Housing And Resource Exchange (SHARE) program matches people who want to share housing for various reasons. Participants must be 18 or older and one of them must be 60 or older.
Margo Muchinsky, an Aging Services Specialist for the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, says every match is unique. A SHARE Housing Counselor works with each pair to create a written agreement before they move in together.
“We have matches that are strictly financially driven, and we have matches that are services driven, so maybe they need their house cleaned, they may need yard work, dog sitting, transportation,” she said. “And some of them are zero rent, it’s strictly companionship.”
The homesharers will set their own agreed upon rent, but it must be less than 30% of the renter’s income. Muchinsky says 18-year-olds have utilized the program to save money for college, as well as current students, or seniors who are on a waiting list for a nursing home.
“We have had matches that have provided homes for high school students that are 18 years or older that are maybe experiencing a bad situation in their homes,” she said. “We’ve had matches with college students, we’ve had matches with professionals, just about everything.”
"We are facing unprecedented challenges in securing affordable housing and in-home assistance for older adults in our communities,” Jason Kavulich, director of the Lackawanna County Area Agency on Aging said at the announcement of the expansion. “Innovative programs like SHARE help us proactively take steps to combat both of these issues and impact the lives of the participants with not only their basic housing needs, but with long-term benefits positively influencing their health and well-being.”
The SHARE counselor in each county works with the individuals throughout the application process and while they are home sharing. They conduct interviews and background checks to ensure safety and compatibility. SHARE does not set a time commitment for homesharers.
“People that are on waitlists for senior housing, sometimes those waitlists can be two to three years,” Muchinsky said. “And they enter into the SHARE program and they’re matched, and they go into the agreement like they’re going into it forever. And if their name comes up on a waiting list and they have to terminate the match, that’s okay.”
In that case, the other homesharer can be matched again. Muchinsky says 94 matches have been made so far, helping about 200 Pennsylvanians.
SHARE began as a pilot program in 2017 in Pike, Monroe, and Wayne counties, and has since been implemented in Carbon, Crawford, Adams, Union, and Snyder counties. This expansion makes it available in Lackawanna, Northumberland, Bucks, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties.