Several other counties in northeastern, central, and western Pennsylvania have had a Home SHARE program for several years. Delayed by the Covid pandemic, it started in Bucks County this past January. The program has also recently begun in Philadelphia, Montgomery, and Northampton counties.
The home Host and Sharer each have a private bedroom, but both have full use of the rest of the Host’s home. There are many benefits from this program and there are many types of participants, such as senior citizens, working professionals, widows and widowers who are living alone, students, single parents, individuals who cannot find affordable housing, or have reduced income because of circumstances beyond their control – or anyone who simply wants to share their lives and home with another person.
Potential Hosts and Sharers are brought together by a Home Share Counselor who meets with them when they decide to enter the program. During the meeting, they complete an application which includes questions about their interests, lifestyle, hobbies, likes and dislikes, as well was what type of person they are looking for in a roommate.
Some of the application questions include:
“Do you have any pets?” “Do you smoke?” “Would you live with a smoker?” “What are your hobbies?”
“Can you offer assistance with housework, meal preparation, mowing the lawn, or running errands?”
“How much interaction do you want with your roommate? Would you want to a share meal?
If so, how often?”
For a Sharer: “How much in rent can you afford?” (Rent cannot exceed 30% of their monthly income).
“Would you be willing to share a bathroom, or would you only accept a private bath?”
For a Host: “How much in rent are you willing to accept?”
“Do you prefer a male or a female renter, or does it not make any difference?
After the initial meeting, the counselor matches potential Hosts and Seekers based upon the answers they provided, their interests, preferences, and their ability to pay the rent that is being sought (Sharer), or the amount of rent they are seeking (Host). All parties must also clear background and reference checks.
An Introduction between the Host and Sharer then takes place, preferably at the home. If both parties are interested after the Introduction, there is a trial move in for 3-7 days during which time no money changes hands. At that point, if both the Host and Sharer agree to move forward, a Home Share Agreement is signed. The agreement can be terminated at any time by either party with 30 days-notice, or with five days-notice if there is an emergency.
“This is a wonderful program for it gives the Host an opportunity to remain in their home when they otherwise may not be able to,” says Shannon Walsh, who along with Clark Shuster, is one of the Bucks County Housing Counselors. “They receive additional income through the monthly rental, as well as companionship, and shared chores around the house. At the same time, the Sharer benefits with an affordable rent, and having a private room.”
Home SHARE is a program of the Bucks County Area Agency on Aging and is overseen by the Ivins Outreach Center. If you are interested in learning more about Home SHARE, in sharing your home with another or if you’re seeking to share someone else’s home, call Shannon at 215-303-2102. She will be happy to answer all your questions!
PHOTO CAP: SHARE Counselor Shannon Walsh joined Bristol Township Councilwoman Marcia Dunlap, at Bristol Township’s 2023 National Night Out.