What you need to know about the home-share sites that are helping seniors who are lonely and struggling financially

Seniors make friends and income with home sharing
Seniors make friends and income with home sharing

DENVER – Due to COVID, we’ve all felt the strain of isolation at some time or another, but people living alone, especially seniors, have felt the effects especially hard. In fact, prolonged isolation can have the same health risks as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Almost 30% of people 50 to 80 years old say they are lonely. That’s why more and more people are turning to home-sharing as a solution. Not only can you find a friend, but it also guarantees a steady stream of income as you age. New websites are now matching the most compatible seekers. Whether you’re a renter or homeowner, both can benefit under the same roof.

Sue and Sue. Mary and Randall could be aging alone and financially strapped. Instead, they are choosing to home share.

“I could not afford to live here by myself,” said Randall Hughes, a homeowner.

Sue Larsen opened her home to Sue Ronnenkamp, who pays $900 a month in rent and gets her own room and access to the rest of the home. Randall and Mary are also roommates. She rents part of the condo from Randall for $750 per month.

“Randall was really strong and positive about making me feel welcome,” said Mary Ozanic, a home renter.

Companies such as Silvernest and Senior Home Shares match seniors who want to stay in their homes with people who need a home. Silvernest says the average homeowner earns $10,000 a year. “It’s not uncommon for us to have roommates when we’re younger, but as we age, it’s not something that we naturally think about,” said Wendi Burkhardt, CEO & co-founder of Silvernest.

For many, home sharing is a necessity. Fifty-four percent of people over 55 have less than $50,000 in retirement savings. Wendi Burkhardt, founder of Silvernest, says house-sharing sites like hers can help. After asking candidates a series of home and lifestyle questions, an algorithm decides a compatibility score.

“It gives you a really good, clear picture of values and attitudes,” said Sue Larsen, a homeowner.

“The biggest thing we had to work out realistically what temperature to keep the house at,” Ozanic said

But the benefits seem to outweigh any problems. The National Shared Housing Resource Center is a clearinghouse that provides information, referrals to local agencies, programs, and guidelines on finding a housemate.