Thursday, July 17, 2014

Shared Housing as a Viable Option for Elders

The NY Times ran an interesting story on July 11, 2014 on shared housing and various initiatives.  Looking for a Housemate, Not a Mate, in Later Life is a story about "shared living arrangements".   The article references a Census Bureau report that notes an uptick in the number of women age 65 and above living alone.

[W]omen are increasingly looking for alternatives to living alone, said Rachel Caraviello, a gerontologist and vice president for programs and services at Affordable Living for the Aging in Los Angeles...With housing costs typically a third or more of living expenses for people 55 and older, the desire to share living space is often driven by economics.

It is not only about economics (since shared housing can mean shared expenses) but "the desire for companionship or the sense of security derived from having a housemate — especially these days, when family members are often far apart."  The article quotes Billie Campbell, senior program manager of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission in Charlottesville, Va.: "[multigenerations used to live together... [h]ouses have gotten bigger but households have gotten smaller.” Thus, for those who don't want to relocate, a housemate may be the solution. This also provides the homeowner with the ability to stay in his or her community, the article notes.

The article stresses the importance of roommate compatibility and suggests references and background checks for starters, as well as matters to be addressed in the agreement.  I would also like to suggest the value of talking to an elder law attorney and having the attorney draw up the agreement.

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