Using generations to bridge housing gap

Home sharing effort seeking volunteers to help seniors age at home

Posted 4/24/17

A Metro Denver housing program seeks to pair people looking for an inexpensive place to stay with seniors who need a little help - financially and physically.

“A lady I talked to today was 90-years-old,” said Alison Joucovsky, executive …

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Using generations to bridge housing gap

Home sharing effort seeking volunteers to help seniors age at home

Posted

A Metro Denver housing program seeks to pair people looking for an inexpensive place to stay with seniors who need a little help - financially and physically.

“A lady I talked to today was 90-years-old,” said Alison Joucovsky, executive director of Sunshine Home Share. “She bought her house in 1956. It is worth so much money, she cannot afford the taxes. She’s looking at losing her house, that she’s lived in for 60 years, because she can’t pay the taxes.”

Sunshine Home Share opened in September 2016 with an idea: Seniors living in Metro Denver are finding it harder to stay in their homes due to rent increases, tax increases and the need for supportive services.

Joucovsky wanted to provide an option for seniors who were being forced from their homes. Sunshine matches an elderly home provider with a younger home seeker.

“This is not room rental. This is home sharing,” Joucovsky said. “This is somebody who is opening up their home, they need supportive services, they want a relationship with the person who is coming in. We help set the parameters of what that relationship is.”

The home provider receives income and assistance from their younger renter. Assistance may include things like taking the home provider to the store or doctor and doing some cleaning and cooking. The home seeker receives a place to live at a reduced rent.

Both parties receive the companionship of each other.

Sunshine handles all the background work to make sure the home seeker is a good candidate. Counselors help the home provider interview the candidates and work out the details so the home seeker knows exactly what is expected from them.

There are already 64 home share programs across the United States, but Sunshine is the first home share program in Colorado.

“Some of the home sharing programs have been around 30-40 years, and I use them,” Joucovsky said. “I reach out all the time to ask them questions about various situations.”

Sunshine’s goal is to make ten matches in 2017.

“It’s hard to hurdle the trust issue,” admitted Joucovsky. “Being a house provider, what’s going to make them trust something that’s a new program? (We want) to let the home providers know that it is really safe, it is really slow, it is really thoughtful. In the end, the decision is always up to the home provider who they want to live with.”

Sunshine is actively seeking both home providers and home seekers. “We especially need seniors with houses,” Joucovsky said. “Without them, we cannot create matches or affordable housing.”

Sunshine also needs support from the community.

“One of the things we are struggling with is being a new non-profit, we are having a hard time securing funding. Most of that is because funders want to see stability, they want to see success,” Joucovsky said. “We need people who believe in our program and want to donate and would be willing to help support us.”

Sunshine will be having its first fundraiser, A Pint and a Slice, on May 1 from 5-7 p.m. at Alpine Dog Brewery on Colfax and Ogden. Tickets are $15. Pre-purchase your tickets at sunshinehomeshare.org.

If you are interested in the home sharing program as either a home provider or home seeker, or if you would like to help support Sunshine, please contact Alison Joucovsky at 303.915.8264.

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