NY Times: Shared-Living Model Helps Seniors Lower Housing Cost

Shared living arrangements address the desire of some seniors to age in place, as well as cut living costs, the New York Times reports.

Housing costs are typically a third or more of living expenses for people 55 and older.

Marianne Kilkenny, 64, launched Women for Living in Community more than a decade ago to provide advice to people interested in shared living arrangements.

Kilkenny, divorced with no children, lives with two other women in a shared living situation. After paying a mortgage for years, she says she enjoys the freedom of no longer having mortgage debt.

For others, shared-living can provide a means of housing after economic hardship. 

Chris Lambrecht, 66, moved in with a female friend, 59, when the owner of the condominium he was renting defaulted on his mortgage and it was bought by an investment company. 

“There’s a real uptick in people who need rental income,” Kirby Dunn, executive director of HomeShare Vermont, which has been in the business of helping people find housemates for 30 years, tells New York Times. “With the recession, people were looking at home-sharing as a way to financially help themselves during difficult times.”

Among nonfamily households, the percentage of women 65 and older who choose not to live alone has grown to 3.8%, up from 2.96% in 2005, the first year numbers were included in the report. For men 65 and older, the percentage during the same period remained the same at 9.1%, New York Times says, citing Census Bureau data.

However, issues can arise in shared living arrangements when it comes to paying bills, or getting along.

To help potential roommates avoid problems, Kilkenny asks questions regarding ability to pay and personality. Kilkenny charges a fee for her services.

Where Kilkenny lives there is a one-year lease with the landlord of the house, with 60 days’ notice required for moving out and a written agreement among the housemates.

“You need to have an exit strategy,” she tells New York Times. “If this isn’t working, what do we need to do so there are no hard feelings afterward?”

Read the full article here

Written by Cassandra Dowell

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