In August of 2018, the Friendship Centers launched a Home Share pilot project to expand affordable housing options in Sarasota. The project assists participants as they create a private domestic arrangement to share living space. The goal of the yearlong project is to facilitate the creation of six matches.
Initially, the age of eligibility for applicants seeking housing was limited to people working full-time between the ages of 23-40. But it quickly became apparent that not enough participants were applying from this age group. However, many working people between the ages of 41-59 wanted to apply for housing through the Home Share Program. An early key finding of the project was the urgent need for housing options for older members of the workforce. To address this critical need, the age eligibility was expanded to include working people up to the age of 59.
Once this change was implemented, the program made its first match two months later.
One of the best features of a Home Share program is matches are based on the personal preferences of each applicant. But this also is the greatest challenge because personal preferences can vary greatly. Sometimes compromises are made, but other times not. The most common matching challenges include:
• Personality differences
• Location and amenities offered
• Cost to share a home which typically is in the $500 to $650 range
• Pet ownership
So far the program has created four matches. Deborah Graves, one of the participants who found affordable housing through the Home Share Program, explains “As a home sharer of the Home Share Program, I find it to be a safe and affordable option for anyone who may not have the resources to acquire their own home." One home provider, contacted as part of the Home Share Program’s follow up support, said she is “happy, happy, happy” with her Home Share arrangement.
The Home Share Program is still actively seeking applicants interested in sharing their home or people working full-time who need more affordable housing. People interested in applying can fill out the online inquiry form or call 941-556-3208.