For students, finding an affordable and safe place to live in Calgary can be a challenge, and for senior citizens, carrying out household maintenance tasks can be difficult. The Calgary HomeShare program was initiated to address both these issues.
The Calgary HomeShare program offers adult students the opportunity to access safe, low-cost housing by residing with a senior citizen in Calgary. The student doesn’t pay rent, but instead contributes anywhere from $100–400 a month for household costs and provides up to 10 hours of weekly services that can include housework, computer assistance and simple companionship.
According to Calgary HomeShare administrator Cheryl Snider, the program offers many benefits to those involved.
“It provides students with safe accommodation where they can give priority to their studies,” said Snider. “It also provides affordable accommodation so they are not having to spend a lot of money on rent.”
Snider said students can gain many skills through the program.
“Students can gain knowledge and learn more about what is involved in home ownership,” said Snider. “Students and the seniors can also get an understanding of different generations and an opportunity to relate with other generations and the issues that are facing them.”
The HomeShare program is now eligible to be used towards students’ co-curricular records, and is now available as an internship opportunity through Serving Communities Internship Program, an Alberta initiative in its second-year that offers student engagement opportunities.
Calgary HomeShare participant Matt Diteljan spoke highly of the program, describing his roommate as “an awesome guy.” Diteljan said his experience provided him with a different perspective on the lives of senior citizens.
“It is rewarding to know I made a difference and made his life easier,” said Diteljan.
Ditlejan said that the largest benefit for him was listening to his roommate’s stories as they got to know each other.
“[He] grew up in Germany in the 1930s–1940s. It has been fascinating hearing about growing up in war-torn Germany and what it was like after the fall of the Nazi regime. It really puts things into perspective,” said Diteljan.
Because Calgary HomeShare involves cost-sharing, homeowners are further benefited because they do not have to report rent income, making the program a viable option for low-income seniors. There is also no fee to join the program as a homeowner or student. The initiative is made possible through funding from the United Way and the Calgary Homeless Foundation. It is administered by the Calgary Seniors’ Resource Society.
Both parties participating in the program are screened and interviewed by HomeShare staff, allowing students and seniors to be matched based on compatibility and mutual needs. An agreement is signed before the student moves in and HomeShare staff remain in contact with the pair while they live together. This allows staff to get feedback, address any issues that may arise and provide direction and additional resources as needed.
There is no minimum or maximum length of time commitment to the program, therefore timelines are determined as a part of each unique agreement and can be altered as necessary.