2008-11-26 / Features

Financial Relief, Companionship Are Home Sharing Benefits

With rising rents and fuel costs, many Queens residents are turning to Home Sharing, New York Foundation for Senior Citizens' free matching service and affordable housing option, to help to cope with the cost of maintaining a home or as an alternative to renting their own apartment.

The only such service in New York City, Home Sharing matches "hosts" who have extra private bedrooms in their homes or apartments to share with responsible, compatible "guests" seeking suitable, affordable housing. Guests contribute toward hosts' monthly household expenses and, in some cases, provide household help or other services in exchange for reduced payment. One of the "matchmates" must be age 60 or older.

In the past few months, New York Foundation for Senior Citizens' free Home Sharing Program has received the largest increase in home sharing applicants at any time in the program's 27-year history. The foundation attributes this jump to the economic hardship experienced by both homeowners and renters and the difficulties experienced by those seeking affordable housing in the city.

"Now, more than ever before, people are turning to home sharing as a financially as well as a safe and socially beneficial housing option," New York Foundation for Senior Citizens President, Linda Hoffman noted.

Lena Goren, a 78-year-old retired court translator living in Queens, who emigrated from Greece during the Holocaust, was widowed a few years ago. Goren wanted company in her home and some help with household expenses. The Home Sharing Program matched her with a 52-year-old woman in need of an affordable, comfortable place to live.

"I am a people person," Goren explained. "I need somebody to be here when I come home, when I wake up—just someone to say 'hello'. My guest does exactly that. She and I sing together, tell jokes, have great conversations. I am so thrilled that the Home Sharing Program exists to help people like me. Their screening process gave me a great sense of security and found a wonderful match for me."

Home Sharing's professional social workers carefully screen all applicants and conduct in-depth interviews to determine compatibility of potential hosts and guests and instantly identify the most appropriate matchmates through Quickmatch, a computer program designed to pair participants and facilitate matches. Once a match is made and prior to moving in, the service offers a license agreement to help hosts and guests clarify the terms of their shared living arrangements. The staff continues to provide services following move-in.

Home Sharing is funded by New York state and city legislators, the New York State Office for the Aging, the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, the city Department for the Aging and private contributions. For more information about New York Foundation for Senior Citizens' free Home Sharing service, call 212-962- 7559, e-mail home.sharing@yahoo.com or visit www.nyfsc.org.

Established in 1968, New York Foundation for Senior Citizens is the only non-profit, non-sectarian organization serving New York's seniors in all five boroughs. NYFSC is dedicated to helping New York's seniors enjoy healthier, safer, and more productive and dignified lives.

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