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Shared Living – a Solution to the Housing Crisis?

By September 2, 2018June 19th, 2020News, StreetSmart Projects

Over the last few decades, there has been an increasing trend towards living alone or with immediate family. However, the increase of the sharing economy has been changing that. The founders of Home Share Melbourne think there is much to be gained from rediscovering shared living, and that it might be a big part of the solution to the current housing affordability crisis.

Homeshare is an international concept that originated in the USA, and was designed to match an older person (or a person with a disability) with someone who can provide support, practical help and companionship. Home Share Melbourne is taking the model and expanding it to match people from all walks of life – and provide a possible solution to the current housing crisis in Melbourne. With over 1 million homes in Australia with 3 or more empty bedrooms, we think it’s an idea worth backing.

HANZA Inc (the Homeshare Australia and New Zealand Alliance) has been supporting and working with organisations across Australia and New Zealand since 2000 to set up home share programs and now it is launching its own program – Home Share Melbourne.

Carla Raynes is one of the founders of HomeShare Melbourne and has over a decades’ experience working in frontline homeless services – both here in Australia and in the UK.

“The face of homelessness has changed in Australia. It’s hitting more people – with many experiencing homelessness for the first time in their lives, especially those over the age of 50. I see people every day who just need a safe place to stay so that they can continue to be valuable members of the community. Homelessness services are overwhelmed and are putting people into completely inadequate environments such as private rooming house which is often dangerous. We need to think of an alternative way to house people.”

HomeShare Melbourne is aiming to be part of the solution by carefully matching Householders willing to open their homes to someone who’s at risk of facing housing crisis, such as asylum seekers, people over the age of 55 and young people with limited supports.

There is a trend towards single occupancy homes, and according to 2016 Census data, an estimated 24.4 % of Australians live alone, with the average lone Householder being a woman over the age of 60 years. Many lone Householders are maintaining 2-3 bedroom properties, wanting to stay in their own home and in their familiar community. Home Share Melbourne sees this as an opportunity.

As I wrote last week, the permanently inflated housing market is responsible for  the increasing number of people paying 30% or more of their income on rent. We can see this clearly in 2016 Census data, which shows a clear correlation between the cost of housing and levels of homelessness. Being employed used to provide a buffer against homelessness, but with exorbitant rents and flat wages, a shocking 30% of people experiencing homelessness are in fact employed.

These seemingly separate problems may in fact point to a solution – as Carla points out “There are many benefits in sharing for Homesharers, Householders and the wider community. Homesharing can support people to live at home for longer, can help Householders cover rent and bills and can support people to access safe and affordable housing at the same time.”

The benefits of matching people with room to spare with those in need of affordable housing are not the only social good the Home Share Melbourne team are hoping to provide. “We want to not only combat homelessness – but social isolation and an increasingly disconnected community.”

The model is simple. Home Share Melbourne carefully matches a Householder with someone looking for affordable housing (Homesharer), and they can agree to provide 0-10 hours of support to the household, and depending on that commitment they will pay some nominal level of lodging fees.

“Actually lots of people still share homes – students and young people – and it’s seen as a safe thing to do. We complete a rigorous process of police checks and reference checks to provide an increased level of security for everyone in the household. We will screen, interview and skillfully match people to create sustainable accommodation.”

The program will support the matches for at least 6 months, and their “aspiration is to create matches that are so successful they don’t need the program anymore.”

Home Share Melbourne is planning to make 75 matches that support at least 150 people in a 3 year pilot period. The pilot will run in the City of Port Phillip (Melbourne) and surrounding areas, which has one of Melbourne’s lowest proportions of affordable new lettings and expand from there.

Home Share Melbourne is ready to be launched and it will be a grant from StreetFunders that gets things up and running.

“This is huge for us – we just need a teeny weeny cash injection to get started and prove that this works. With this funding, we can launch with our first matches, prove the concept works, and start throwing our hat in the ring for ongoing sponsorship and support. ”


You can join the community of StreetFunders getting Home Share Melbourne off the ground here

You can also support Home Share Melbourne by voting for it in the Pick My Project government grants initiative. Your vote will help the program secure a years’ worth of funding,

If you are interested in taking part in the pilot get in contact with Home Share Melbourne here