For more than twenty years of my adult life, I have lived in shared housing with people who started out as strangers. I’ve always appreciated the cost savings and companionship that shared housing provides. In my years of sharing housing, I’ve learned a few things. I’ve lived with singles, people in transition, a single mother and her pre-school son, an elderly friend of the family, couples, people in school or internships, and foreigners in the country for work or study. Some have remained friends, others have not. I have made mistakes and made wonderful friends. There is no doubt that my life has been richer by living under a roof with people who started out as strangers.
The Spark for the Book
The book, Sharing Housing, A Guidebook for Finding and Keeping Good Housemates came about through a telephone conversation. A dear friend was complaining about the state of her finances. When I suggested that she could rent a room in her house, she wailed, “I don’t know how to do that.” She’d had one horrible experience and didn’t want to repeat it. I argued that she’d made a mistake in letting that one person move in and that she didn’t have to repeat the mistake. She asked if I would coach her. I agreed.
When I got off the phone and was thinking about how I would coach her, I realized that I’d developed a process that I could teach to others and decided to write the book.
It was only after publishing the book that I realized that sharing housing is a great solution for the boomer generation, my generation, who in retirement are squeezed between the cost of housing and income. In addition, more than a third of boomers are single. Sharing housing provides help with tasks to the simple companionship of another person. That person I call a “home-mate.”
Twenty-seven percent of housing in this country are single occupancy, which I believe is leading to the epidemic of loneliness in our society. Sharing housing can make a difference.
I come to this work after years in the corporate world, first as a management consultant and later as an instructional designer. As a consultant, I trained employees to work in self-managing work teams, honing my expertise in group dynamics and interpersonal relationships. As an instructional designer, I’m skilled in breaking down complex subjects so that individuals can learn them easily.
Years ago I earned a masters in divinity, (The Episcopal Divinity School) where I received excellent supervised training in helping people—how to listen, how to encourage personal growth, and how to help people manage life. I consider Sharing Housing to be a ministry.
I spent five years working on creating a nonprofit on a completely different subject. For that reason, I was resistant to making Sharing Housing a nonprofit organization. But the truth is that the work of advocacy and education that I have been doing is a social mission. As a nonprofit it has a better chance of achieving our goals.
Starting a Non Profit
The nonprofit Sharing Housing, Inc. was granted 501(c)(3) status in September of 2017. This organization has the mission of providing educational resources to other organizations to spread the idea of shared housing as a solution to the twin problems of affordable housing and social isolation. Our website is here.
Donations to our work are greatly appreciated. You can donate here.
Information about inviting me to speak about shared housing is also on that website.
Check out the book that started it all. Sign up for the newsletter. We write regularly on the subject of sharing housing including hints for doing it well, and interviews with those who already share housing. We offer webinars to help people, (you?) really get into the idea and gain the tools you need to select a good home-mate.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about about our work and your interest in sharing housing. Click here to drop me a line.