More and more college students in the United States are having problems obtaining housing that is consistent with their needs.

According to a poll conducted by Temple University in 2020, over 43 percent of students enrolled in four-year universities faced housing insecurity.

During this time, there has been an increase in the number of older citizens who are having trouble making ends meet, and one in every four adults over the age of 60 lives alone.

As a result, given the predicament that younger and older generations find themselves in, why not encourage them to cohabit?

Although it is not a novel idea, the United States has not yet conducted much research on it nor has it accepted it as the standard. But the practice is becoming more widespread all over the world, and a few organizations in the United States are gaining traction, including one in Southern California called HomeShare OC.

One of the participants is 19-year-old Natalie Ho. She is a psychology major at Irvine Valley College, which she attended in recent years.

She states, “I pay $300 a month for my room, which is pretty affordable for me.”

In Dana Point, California, Ho shares a home with Arlene Casimiro, who is 89 years old and has been a widow for a significant amount of time.

“I don’t dislike Natalie at all,” Casimiro says. “She is a wonderful girl with a lively demeanor, and she lets me know when she’s coming in and leaving, which is very helpful information.”

Carrie Buck, the executive director of Homeless Intervention Services of Orange County, adds that the success of these roommates sounds similar to the success of others she has matched since she started HomeShare OC immediately before COVID-19 began.

Her efforts were first slowed down as a result of the pandemic, but now she is witnessing an increase in interest in the initiative. The monthly rent that students pay cannot exceed $500 in any case.

After having students and homeowners sign up for the service online, Buck contacts both groups to initiate the process of developing a connection.

“In order to truly move in together, a significant amount of trust is required. According to what she has said, “our work really comes into play when it comes to finding out what each of them is interested in and then beginning the process of matching them.” “And then we introduce them to each other by phone and through Zoom and then in person, and then they eventually make the decision as to whether or not they are going to move in together,” we said.

The majority of what is known about the advantages of activities such as these comes from anecdotal evidence.

Because she moved in with Casimiro this semester, Ho, for example, was finally able to cross “live by the ocean” off her bucket list. Ho claims that this was something she had always wanted to do since she was a child. The money that was saved has literally been a lifesaver. The prices of other rooms for rent in the area are often four or five times more.

According to Ho, “I do not feel as though I am losing out on anything as a college student by doing this, because it does not hinder me from, like, going out…to parties.” “Except for my student loans, it hasn’t prevented me from doing anything at all.”

Companionship is an additional benefit, which comes in addition to financial savings. According to Buck, the practice is popular among seniors who live alone and, increasingly, among college students.

“Our college students face a lot of loneliness when they’re moving off to college when they’re going to school,” says Buck. “They’re not going to have anyone there with them.” “That really has been a significant motivator in students joining up for us, but you don’t necessarily think about it,” she said. “You don’t necessarily think about it.”

On the other hand, there are certain drawbacks to it.

A comparable program may be found on the East Coast, and it is directed by Ernest Gonzales, who is the director of the Center for Health and Aging Innovation at New York University. When it comes to attracting older folks, he believes one trap to watch out for is ageism.

Gonzales notes that the encouraging thing is that there are hundreds of students interested in participating in the program. The unfortunate reality is that not a lot of older folks are aware of this opportunity, or they have their own reservations about having a roommate, let alone a younger roommate. This is the bad news.

Gonzales claims that he has been keeping an eye on the ratio for some time now, and it appears that they would need approximately 15 older adults for every single student who is interested in the program in order to maximize the match based on preferences such as location, pets, and smoking. Gonzales says that he has been keeping an eye on the ratio for some time now. But reaching that goal has been challenging up to this point.

Buck states that her program confronts comparable difficulties.

She says, “But we’re also meeting some successes with individual conversations, getting out into the community, and talking to different groups like women’s clubs, Rotaries, Kiwanis Clubs, all of those different groups that we get in front of and talk to.” “But we’re also meeting some successes with individual conversations,” she says. In most cases, we identify one or two persons who are interested in what we have to offer.

Gonzales also cites public policies as a factor that contributed to the problem.

“There are so many low-income older individuals who might benefit from this program, but they’re living in public housing or on means-tested public benefits that are income based,” he says. “There [are] so many low-income older adults who could benefit from this program.” If you are receiving public benefits and you also get money from a graduate student for shared housing, this could affect your eligibility for those benefits. As a result, we exercise caution throughout the process of recruitment.

Buck claims that this hasn’t been as big of a problem in Orange County, but they do have one homeowner who has a reverse mortgage and is prohibited from charging rent because of it.

According to her, everything works out well in the end because the college students give the homeowner a total of five hours of their time every week as part of the arrangement for them to stay there. They assist with a variety of chores, such as taking care of the plants, going to the grocery store, and walking the dog.

“They work that out through negotiation,” she explains.

Homelessness is a significant issue that is only becoming worse in Southern California, which is already one of the most expensive regions to live in in the United States. According to Buck, this fact makes it appear more necessary to find alternatives such as home sharing.

“I believe that it is of the utmost importance. “During the pandemic, the security officers at our nearby university really created a parking lot at the institution so that students who were homeless could stay in their cars and be secure,” she recalls. The university is located very close to our city. As a result of the end of the pandemic, all of our benefits have been eliminated, which is contributing to an increase in the number of people who are living on the streets.

Buck adds that in the past two weeks, the program has gone from serving 100 people asking for refuge each month to approximately 400 people.

She explains that it is “truly out of this world.” “At this time, we are unable to meet the requirements of the college students who are inquiring with us. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that we go around to our homeowners and talk to them, get in touch with them, communicate with them, and talk to them about the great need that we have that they could help with and help get these college students in a safe space so that they can finish their college degrees.

By Anna

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