How Home Sharing is Changing the Private Rental Market
Brighton is expensive. In some ways I feel it might be even more expensive than London, where I used to live.
Brighton is fun. I bump into friends all the time on the street, and before I realise, we are swapping coffees with beers by the sea, partying and watching the sunset.
A rough calculation suggested that, on average, rent in Brighton eats up around 32% of a young person’s income. The idea of living by the coast, having fun, sipping coffees and cocktails, is likely to take a bigger and bigger toll on our wallet, let alone our savings accounts.
The situation where our wage increase is not keeping up with inflation and rising house prices is not unique to Brighton & Hove or London. The global North has experienced one form of housing crisis or another, from shortage in housing supplies, to older people homelessness, and innovative solutions have flourished.
We should see this as a wake-up call, an opportunity to reshape the housing market from the ground up. How can we live cheaply, create real communities and build relationships with our flatmates and neighbours? There is a solution that can be implemented easily and immediately.
Intergenerational home sharing ticks all the boxes
Two Generations C.I.C. is a national social enterprise that promotes and facilitates intergenerational home sharing.
The organisation helps match an older person who has a spare room, with a younger person (home sharer). The home sharer benefits from cheaper accommodation which can be as low as £249 a month. In addition to living with the householder and keeping them company some of the time, they also help them for a few hours each week with household chores like washing up.
This means that instead of a highly-commoditized rental market, we can move to living arrangements that are increasingly focused on the relational, social, and humanistic aspects.
Isn’t that just what we want in a warm household? Both the older and the younger people can remain independent and have privacy in their separate rooms, but the relationship is built through pre-agreed times and activities to meet and support each other.
With Two Generations being present from the matching stage until the end of the arrangement, this means that both the older and the younger person have someone to reach out to. This replaces the tension often found between the landlord and the tenant in a private rental setup.
What do I have to do as a home sharer?
The activities the home sharer and the householder can do together are pre-agreed and vary based on the needs of the latter. They can range from food shopping, laundry, helping out around the house and technological assistance, to companionship and dining together. It’s very important to note that the line between a home sharer and a carer is drawn quite clearly. It doesn’t involve personal care activities like bathing an older person or facilitating medication. Two Generations always assess the level of needs of the older person up-front, to ensure they are suitable for home sharing.
“I was lonely living alone and Two Generations have solved this problem for me,” says one currently registered householder. “My home sharer is a delightful young woman who does the small jobs around the house that I am unable to do, such as filling and unloading the dishwasher and taking out the dustbins. She provides companionship in the evening as she lives in my house and we see each other every day. She will cook a meal for me if necessary and buy groceries if my internet order needs topping up.
“Two Generations will always try to match up the right home sharer to the householder and I am very happy to recommend this organisation.”
Two Generations appeared on BBC Morning Live recently, and received many tearful calls from older people as and when the interview was being broadcasted.
Many older and younger people are feeling lonely and isolated during the pandemic. Perhaps a silver lining of our current situation is that people are now taking the loneliness epidemic seriously.
As the vaccination programme is being rolled out and things are slowly reopening, it’s important to remember that this doesn’t mean the feeling of loneliness and anxiety will go away instantly. Especially among older people who live alone, isolation might have happened way before the pandemic.
Intergenerational home sharing provides an instant, safe and innovative solution to all of these big social issues. Now is the time to apply. Be it to make positive changes in our mental health, to disrupt the overheated property market, or to give something back to our community.