For seniors who want to age in their own homes but could use help with the housework or who feel a bit lonely, home-share programs offer a practical, safe solution. They match homeowners — usually seniors — with home seekers who are willing to trade services for reduced rent.
Often, especially in college towns, these home seekers are students; others might be low-income seniors or folks in transition due to divorce or changes in employment.
The concept originated with Gray Panthers activist Maggie Kuhn, who rented rooms in her Philadelphia home to younger adults at reduced rates in exchange for services and companionship. According to the National Shared Housing Resource Center, established by Kuhn in 1981, home-share agencies now exist in more than 20 states. They range from hands-on programs that do background checks, arrange matches and serve as mediators to agencies that simply provide information on resources in an area.