Pictured (l to r) are Joel Rhodes, Kara Casey, Roni Coleman and Christina Goodwin of Home Share Now
Housing costs are clearly unaffordable when a Vermonter earning the median income needs to work 88 hours to afford a two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent. The good news is that with the number of over-housed people, living in a home with vacant bedrooms, Vermont also has a housing opportunity. Home Share Now is all about harnessing that opportunity by facilitating shared living matches where services are performed in exchange for affordable housing. The most forward home sharing program in the country, Home Share Now has no qualifiers or disqualifiers for participation, although all participants must successfully pass a background check and provide personal, employment, and landlord references.
Thanks to a number of staffing changes at the Barre City office, the organization will likely make 25% more new matches than in any other year previous since 2003. To celebrate a strong and successful first quarter of the fiscal year, Home Share Now is waiving its $50 enrollment fee for the month of November.
New matches this year include single homeowners now getting extra income to make mortgage payments easier, vulnerable elders needing assistance with household tasks, young adult home seekers new to Vermont’s tight job market, paid care givers, and seasoned professionals looking to reduce their commutes.
While the organization’s success is due to a number of factors, a large part is the work of Program Manager Kara Casey, who has the depth and understanding to visualize matches that are both creative and pragmatic. Last year the organization helped 97% of matched participants live where and how they would like.
Newest to the team, Joel Rhodes is serving as an AmeriCorps volunteer focused on program and outreach assistance via the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board. Joel will spend the next eleven months in central Vermont. A graduate of Juniata College in Pennsylvania, he’s studied in Ireland, done sustainable forestry in Oregon, renovated houses at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, and served at a daycare in Mexico. AmeriCorps engages more than 80,000 Americans in intensive service each year at non-profits, schools, public agencies, and community and faith-based groups across the country. Joel will be hosting a free informational session that is open to the public on Tuesday, November 19 at 5:30pm at their downtown Barre office next to Goodfellow’s Jewelry, 105 North Main Street.
In the same mind of service, Home Share Now is tapping into local volunteer networks RSVP and Onion River Exchange in a Circle of Care as a way for those in need of more services, typically seniors, to have access to hourly volunteers in addition to a live-in home share. At last check, 82% of matched home providers were 55 or older. The Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging, and Independent Living, Susan Wehry, spoke on Vermont Public Radio on October 29 on the topic of senior housing and care needs as the state with the second oldest population in the country. As part of the on-air discussion, Home Share Now was mentioned to be a piece of the puzzle to address the quarter of the population that will be over 65 by 2030 and an option that is growing in popularity.
Connections among community members assist us all in dealing with the all too common challenges of loneliness, helplessness, and boredom. Last year 100% of matched home providers reported that they feel safer at home and are less lonely. On the other side of the equation, 92% of matched home seekers said they feel more financially stable.
The Circle of Care is one strategic goal in a three year planning document that is anticipated to be adopted in December by the Home Share Now board. Home Share Now is recruiting new board members to assist in the actualization of the plan; if interested contact Christina Goodwin at 802-479-8549.