DENVER – Sunshine Home Share Colorado, a nonprofit organization that helps connect homeowners who are 55 years old or older with renters searching for an affordable place to live, is searching for more participants in the Denver metro area.
“We do require verifiable income, because almost all of our home providers are charging rent on some level,” said Sunshine Home Share Colorado Executive Director Alison Joucovsky. “I think the first requirement is just a willingness to share space.”
Joucovsky said applicants are also required to submit to a background check.
“We are always looking for people who are open to sharing their home. We know that there is nothing more intimate... than thinking about sharing your home with somebody that you haven't met before,” Joucovsky said.
Joucovsky said renters and homeowners have control over the matching process and interview each other.
Sunshine Home Share Colorado has reported 65 roommate matches since it launched in 2016.
“When we pulled our data last year, what we were looking at was an average rent that was just slightly under $500 for renters with about three to five hours a week of service exchange,” Joucovsky said. “So that could be a ride to a doctor's appointment, shoveling the snow, it could mean taking out the trash. We have home providers from the age of 65 that are just like, 'I'm active, I'm busy. I really just am not making ends meet.' … We might have people that are in their 90s— about a third of our matches are in their 90s. And that's when you start looking at maybe making a couple meals a week and some light housekeeping. We are working to always make sure that the rent paid and the service provided feels balanced.”
Homeowner Penny Ware and renter Tamara Stevenson were matched through the program at the end of last year.
“I had a friend at church, who was a financial planner. … He gave a little talk one day at church about how it would be really nice if people would open up their homes. He had found this program… So I was thinking, 'Wow, I do have a lot of space, and it's not being used,'” Ware said.
Ware reached out to Sunshine Home Share Colorado and interviewed three applicants before choosing Stevenson.
“I'm a small business owner, and basically in the situation of looking for and needing more affordable housing, “ Stevenson said. “It's really worked out fine for both of us.”
Ware said it took her three years to finally sign up for the program and she’s grateful she did.
“About three or four weeks (after) when Tamra moved in, I fell on the floor and broke my hip,” Ware said. “She has a nursing background. She knew exactly what to do.”
Ware and Stevenson said they know the arrangement isn’t for everyone, but for homeowners and renters who are willing to share space, this is one of many solutions to address Denver’s affordable housing problem.