Program Guidelines

HomeShare ATL

Program Guidelines

(For the full guidelines, and a printable version of these guidelines, click here.)

Program Purpose

HomeShare ATL is a new service offered by Aviv Older Adult Services of JF&CS to allow seniors to remain in their private homes longer, to decrease social isolation, and to receive support with day-to-day living — all while creating affordable housing for other adults. Home sharing enables Home Providers to reduce housing costs, remain living at home more independently for as long as possible, have companionship, and receive support in times of need, which in turn can enable Home Seekers to become self-supporting and avoid homelessness and poverty.

Program Description

HomeShare ATL is a unique service matching two or more unrelated people to share an existing home for mutual benefit. Each person has a private bedroom and bathroom with certain common areas shared. The Home Provider may need financial assistance in the form of rent and/or assistance with basic household chores, while the Home Seeker may be looking to secure affordable rent and not want to live alone. Home Providers develop a rental agreement or service exchange in lieu of part or all of rent. No two home share situations are alike: each is created to the needs and desires of the people involved.

Trained staff support a safe and thoughtful process including a thorough interview and screening process. Background, credit, and reference checks are conducted to determine eligible applicants to assist in making a match that works.

HomeShare ATL cannot meet the needs of emergency housing. The process of matching is a careful and somewhat time-consuming process and is not a "quick fix."

HomeShare ATL program does not provide for home health care. If an applicant needs a great deal of personal care or cannot be left unattended, this program is not appropriate.

Home Seekers can provide companionship and household help, but will have activities of their own, independent of the Home Provider. Coordination of multiple services may be needed for the Provider. Aviv Older Adult Services may be able to provide ideas if needed.

Program Participants

Home Providers are adults who want to share their homes and vary in age, health, and economic status. They may be receiving personal caregiving, but it is not the responsibility or expectation for the housemate to provide personal care services which includes toileting assistance, bathing assistance, dressing, turning, lifting, administering medications, or any activity which brings each into contact with bodily fluids or infections. Some older adults may work or be retired; they may be individuals or married couples; or may have adult children in their home. The residence being shared may be a house, condominium, or townhouse that is not under the lease, management, or jurisdiction of a third party. Typically, the Provider owns their home.

Home Seekers are adults of all ages looking for affordable housing that may not wish to live alone or cannot afford to do so. Seekers may be working people, students, retired, or someone who is in a lifestyle or career transition.

Matches must include one participant 60 years of age or older. The senior can be the Provider or the Seeker, and two seniors can be matched. All applicants must be 21 years of age or older.

Types of Home Share Arrangements

Traditional Rent Arrangement: This is most like a traditional roommate situation with the Seeker paying a reasonable monthly rent yet lower than market rate to the Provider. Rent will vary on a case-by-case basis but the lower it is, the more potential candidates will be interested.

Mixed Arrangement: This is a combination of cash rent and service hours. This arrangement offers Providers the benefit of some extra income and household assistance while Seekers pay a lower monthly rent.

Service Exchange Only (no cash rent): This no cash option offers Seekers the opportunity to provide services in lieu of cash rent. The Provider and Seeker negotiate in advance the number of hours and types of services to be exchanged each month based on specific needs and abilities. The Seeker will be responsible for personal expenses and maybe a portion of utilities. Services may not include personal care such as bathing, toileting, or medication management.

Rental Arrangements

The rental arrangement is an opportunity for the Provider to remain independent in their home by renting out a spare bedroom, as well as providing an affordable housing option for adults of all ages. A family home may serve as a Provider where the Seeker is a senior who moves in.

Rental rates are established by the Provider, each situation is different based on their needs, the location, neighborhood, home amenities, and ease of access to transportation. Monthly rents range from $0 to $900+. HomeShare ATL provides guidance and discussion about rent reduction for service exchange. The more service exchanges a Provider wants and a Seeker is willing to do can lower the rent amount. Service exchanges may or may not include some shared costs for utilities, cable, Wi-Fi, phone, or storage that must be paid by the Seeker. A deposit may be required at the Provider’s discretion. Every situation is different.

Service Exchange Arrangement

Some examples of services that may be provided in exchange for reduced rent or no rent include companionship, meal preparation, cooking, housekeeping, laundry, rides to appointments or to run errands, technology assistance, yard work, gardening, handy person, pet care, and others are possible.

All aspects of the housing arrangement are negotiated between the Home Provider and the Home Seeker prior to completing a Living Together Agreement. HomeShare ATL provides an Agreement template, and a copy is available on request.

Length of Rentals

A HomeShare ATL goal is to promote suitable, long-lasting home sharing arrangements and strong relationships. Experience has proven that hurried matches do not last. It will take time to identify suitable matches and for applicants to make careful decisions. People in need of short-term housing may apply, but many Providers prefer a longer-term commitment and Seeker referral opportunities may be limited.

Time to Be Matched

Homesharing is about two pools of enrollees: those with an extra bedroom in their home and those needing an affordable place to live. HomeShare ATL’s comprehensive process to ensure a candidate for a match is a good fit requires time. The quickest amount of time applicants can be matched may be about six to eight weeks, this includes a Trial Match. For some applicants it can take longer to be matched due to personal preferences and a combination of the amount of time to complete the application process and time to find a good fit. Variables include location, affordability, availability, flexibility, lifestyle, and compatibility.

Even when there is an imbalance of the number of Seekers to Providers in the candidate pools, the participants may not be suited for each other.

Homesharing is not a traditional housing program with a waiting list. The best person for a match, not simply the “next” person or the person with the highest needs is who is matched. Not every applicant is a good homesharing candidate, some may simply not find the right match, or some applicant’s needs may not be met by the candidates in the current pools. Most Providers want an individual housemate. Couples, or a single parent with one child, can apply to the program, but it will be more difficult to find the right match and is likely to take a significant amount of time. Pets in a home or a housemate wanting to move in with a pet can be a deal breaker!

Following a successful Trial Match, Home Seekers and Home Providers are encouraged to co-sign a three-month lease with the intent of extending the term to a year. HomeShare ATL strives to provide permanent housing lasting over one year. Applicants are not placed in homes; pairs of individuals make the decision regarding with whom to live.

HomeShare ATL will provide a template Living Together Agreement and can assist in a discussion following the Trial Match for defining details of sharing a home prior to being co-signed by the Provider and Seeker.

Non-Discrimination Policy

JF&CS abides by the federal Fair Housing Act and the Georgia Fair Housing Act, which among other requirements, prohibit discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, gender, familial status, disability, sexual orientation, marital status, source of income, age or other protected characteristics. JF&CS does not refer housemates based on these factors. Shared Housing Exemption: homeowners sharing a bathroom, kitchen, or other common areas can state their preference and make a housemate decision based on gender.

Applicants to the home sharing program must be willing to meet and consider housemates who may be different from themselves. This program introduces enrolled homeowners to enrolled seekers as a potential match to become housemates.