Home sharing allows two or more adults to share housing for their mutual benefit.
A person offers a private bedroom and shared common area in exchange for rent, help
around the house or a combination of the two. Every home sharing arrangement is unique.
It’s about people helping people.
“Home sharing is quickly becoming a ray of hope for the
elder population who want to age in the RIGHT place.” Sharon Kha; Founding Member, Tucson Home Sharing.
HISTORY OF HOME SHARING IN TUCSON
Tucson Home Sharing, Inc. was established in February 2017, although initial outreach began in 2016 when Deborah Knox and Sharon Kha began sharing a home in midtown Tucson.
National media picked up on their story with articles in the online version of AARP, and later, in the print version of their Bulletin. Even the Wall Street Journal included them in an online publication, along with other success stories. The Pew Charitable Trust contacted Tucson Home Sharing in September 2019 and sent a crew from Washington DC to create a 5 minute video titled Boommates, as they too were discovering the value of home sharing to address the nationwide need of affordable housing.
Between 2017 and 2019, Sharon and Deb presented their story to more than 10 organizations serving the older populations in Tucson. These presentations were for outreach purposes to individuals as well as professional staff of organizations that serve elders. They include: PCOA (Pima Council on Aging), JFCS (Jewish Family and Children’s Services), Senior Pride of Southern Arizona, TMC for Seniors, Neighbors Care Alliance, SNAP (Sunrise Neighborhood Assistance Program), Ft. Lowell Live at Home Program, and many others within the ELDER Alliance Program.
Best Practices and Benefits
Model programs of home sharing that have been in business a number of years provide clear instructions and information for homeowners and homeseekers. These instructions include easily accessible intake forms, an online matching program administered by professional staff and trained volunteers, background checks that ensure security, training in communication and conflict resolution to ensure that long term relationships can be established and maintained.
This organization offers a program directory to over 50 established programs, and encourages sharing information and resources to help new programs get started. It’s exciting that this growing industry has such a well coordinated national support system to further promote the value and shared benefits of home sharing.
Challenges and Next Steps
There is a need to educate and enlighten older adults in Pima County about the benefits of home sharing as people seek to overcome feelings of isolation, and loneliness, and the pressures of maintaining an affordable living place.
Tucson Home Sharing was awarded an AARP Community Challenge grant to reach out to Homeowners/Providers to educate, and recruit interested candidates for this project. THS’s mission is to provide education, outreach and advocacy. Pima Council on Aging (PCOA) is launching a Pilot Home Sharing Program expected to be serving Tucson and Pima County residents in 2022. Both agencies are be working closely together to ensure a safe, reliable and sustainable program.
Conclusions: Aging in the “Right” place needs to ensure diversity and equity in matches. The optimal outcome is to promote a high quality of life for those aging in their own homes and neighborhoods. Shared Housing does not address the needs of the chronically homeless population, nor persons requiring full time in-home care.
TUCSON HOME SHARING BOARD OF DIRECTORS
REFLECTIONS ON HOME SHARING
I have been living in shared housing most of my life, although I might not have called it by that name. I was born a Mennonite and my growing up included giving up my bedroom to various visiting missionaries.
When I bought my house in Tucson 25 years ago, I bought it with one more bedroom than I actually needed. I wanted an extra bedroom because my vision for how I would live in my elder years was always about sitting on a porch, rocking back and forth and having quiet conversations with a companion/housemate. I serve as hands-on advisor and advocate for home sharing.
My life has changed so much since I began sharing a home with Sharon Kha in 2016. Both of us were in our early 70’s and faced with the challenges and desires of aging in place (with purpose I might add) which has enriched our lives immensely.
Having lived alone most of my adult life (never married, no kids) I had some earlier experiences sharing a home with 4 other adults in the 70’s in the Greater Boston Area. I learned a lot about sharing the challenges and rewards of home sharing, while maintaining separate independent space. I look forward to conversations with many other homeowners and homeseekers wanting to learn more.
My homesharing journey began while I was in grad school at The University of Georgia as a way to pay down the student loan debt that I had accrued throughout undergrad. Upon finishing grad school (And paying off my debt!) I was hired by Raytheon and moved to Tucson. I decided to continue homesharing until I saved up enough money to purchase my first home. I've now been homesharing for over 5 years! Little did I know how fulfilling of an experience I was embarking upon when I first started out!
Sharing our home was important to my wife Nancy and me for about fifty years. I started working at the Tucson Catholic Worker House and Soup Kitchen in Tucson shortly after we arrived here from Boston in 1970. Nancy and I thought of ourselves as following in the spirit of that movement and its founder Dorothy Day, “always invite in the stranger.” Some guests stayed for a few days and one for over a year. I am still sharing my home with the woman who moved in to share our home before my wife Nancy passed. We have been together for seven years total and enjoy the many benefits of home sharing.
Concomitantly as I’ve grown older, I’ve found myself increasingly engaged in issues of the elderly. I’ve been active in the life of my local Armory Park Senior Center for fifteen years, holding offices on the senior board. I’m also serving in my third term on the Advisory Council of Pima Council on Aging, the non-profit that manages most of the government funding for the county’s elderly. We function as the eyes and ears of PCOA, bringing community issues to its attention and evaluating its programs.
I heard about Tucson Home Sharing for the first time when I met Deborah Knox and Sharon Kha about a year ago, at an event we were attending. I knew both women, but had not seen them for a while. I found the project so interesting that I soon joined the Tucson Home Sharing organization. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that I already knew two other members of the board!
There are many reasons why I became involved in Tucson Home Sharing, in particular because home sharing has many advantages for homeowners and home seekers, and it addresses an important need in Tucson.
I was also inspired by Deb’s gratitude for “aging in place with purpose” which reflects the often unexpected happiness and friendship that can result from home sharing.
LUCY (Tiny) READ
I was introduced to the concept of home sharing as a young teenager when my parents invited foreign students to live with our family for a few months each summer. My favorite student was a 17 year old boy named Photius from the Greek Isle of Corfu. He drove me and my brother anywhere we wanted to go. Little did I realize then that this “chore,” which was requested by my parents was in exchange for an additional serving of dinner each night; he had a very big appetite!
When our youngest child was in high school, we invited an American Field Service student from Spain to live with us for her senior year. It was a great cross-cultural experience, and we visited her and her family in Sevilla some 30 years later!
I am an arch-supporter of older adults aging in place (in their own home and neighborhood), for as long as possible; in fact, I founded and managed a local aging in place program for many years. Home sharing is an affordable choice of housing for many and reduces the risks of loneliness and isolation. As a retired R.N., I like to think that home sharing is a healthy choice for living.
I have offered services to the Tucson community for the last 25 years through my business, OfficePlus. The business offers bookkeeping and office assistance to small business owners. I met Deborah Knox shortly after Deb’s move to Tucson and we had a quick connection. My joy and delight at watching Deb move in with Sharon and their evolving relationship prompted me to want to contribute whatever I could to the Tucson Home Sharing effort.
JUDY CLINCO, Advisor
The Tucson Home Sharing Board is grateful to Judy Clinco for serving as a hands-on advisor of the recognizable benefits of home sharing. As an initiator and creator of many community-based projects serving the older population, she knows how to make things happen.