Organization helps empty nesters refill their coop

ADDISON COUNTY — Whether it’s receiving rental income or assistance with household chores, or just having a friendly companion, there are many ways that homesharing could help seniors in Addison County. HomeShare Vermont is in its 31st year of serving seniors by matching them with a housemate who moves in and provides service in exchange for affordable housing. There are no age or income requirements to homeshare; anyone with a spare bedroom in their home could participate. Here are some examples of how homesharing can benefit all involved.
A mother of five, Jean was used to a busy household. She had lived in her Pittsford home for over 50 years. But, after her children moved away, she missed the hustle and bustle that a home could have, so she turned to HomeShare Vermont. “I was looking at a number of options because I didn’t really need the house to myself, and it’s nice to have some rental income,” explained Jean, “but the particular thing I liked about HomeShare Vermont is that they do so much background research.”
Jean was first paired with Kevin, a college student and opera singer who wanted a peaceful space to concentrate on his studies. During the year that they lived together they developed a wonderful relationship. “It became a pleasure to see Kevin’s friendly face every day,” remembers Jean.
Jean came back to us a couple of years later and was matched with a woman in her 50s who works in retail and teaches singing lessons a few times each week. Her busy schedule has her constantly coming and going, but that doesn’t bother Jean. “I enjoy having someone around, even if it is just crossing paths in the kitchen once a day,” says Jean.
They will celebrate their second anniversary as housemates this month and they speak fondly of one another. “Jean is tolerant and she gives me space, which is important to me,” notes her homesharer. “It doesn’t hurt that we have the same political beliefs, either. We are able to have good conversations.” Jean appreciates their differences, “Where one lacks, the other makes up for it. She’s creative and musical, which I was never inclined. And she doesn’t mind cleaning, and I’m grateful for that.”
Both women unanimously recommend homesharing to others. “It’s worth it to take the time to find the right match. The two-week trial period is a good idea, too,” Jean said.
Thanks to HomeShare Vermont, Jean’s home continues to be a “high traffic area.”
An 86-year-old Lincoln resident, coincidentally also named Jean, contacted HomeShare Vermont for other reasons. Several years ago, she had a fall that scared her. She was OK, but realized it worried her to be alone in the country with no nearby neighbors. She found a housemate through HomeShare Vermont and jokes that it makes her kids “feel better about their aged mother.” As she heads to Arizona each winter, she likes having the house occupied while she’s away.
“It’s not just having someone chip in on the bills, but having someone reliable in the house who I know will take good care of it and have it neat and clean when I return,” Jean said. That provides peace of mind for her.
Homesharing is a living arrangement in which someone with a spare bedroom in their home offers housing to another person in exchange for some services or rental income. Every homeshare situation is different, ranging from straight rental to 100 percent barter for services like help with preparing meals, housekeeping, snow shoveling or grocery shopping. Each arrangement is tailored to the individual needs of those involved, so the key to success is to find a compatible match.
HomeShare Vermont has a thorough screening and matching process. An in-depth interview and background and reference checks are done on all applicants looking for housing before they may be introduced to homeowners interested in sharing their space.
HomeShare Vermont offers short informational sessions as a way for individuals, professionals and families to learn about the services they provide. Anyone who would like to learn more, could join such a session at 412 Farrell St., South Burlington, on Wednesday, Nov. 13, at 5 p.m., or Wednesday, Dec. 11, at 1 p.m. Those who wish to take part must RSVP by calling 802-863-5625 or sending an email to [email protected].
If those times don’t work, find out more about homesharing by calling the HomeShare Vermont office at the above number or visit www.HomeShareVermont.org for more information.
Editor’s note: This story was provided by HomeShare coordinator Amy Jelen.

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