Jewish Family & Career Services (JF&CS) of Atlanta recently launched HomeShare ATL, a service that matches older adults with home-sharers in Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett counties. The program, which is the only one of its kind in Georgia, serves all people regardless of their race, religion, gender or nationality, offering housing options to older adults who may need more home support but do not require assisted living or skilled nursing services.
“The need for senior house-sharing is on the rise,” says Jean Cohen, the new program’s manager and matchmaker. “Atlanta is home to one of the fastest growing senior communities in the country, and HomeShare ATL is an innovative solution for many older adults who want to continue to live independently in their own homes.”
HomeShare ATL’s primary goal is to go beyond the basics of connecting homeowners and home-sharers with the right location, amenities and price. “Our goal isn’t just to put a roof over people’s heads,” says Cohen. “Our goal is to build relationships, enable older adults to stay at home, and to create affordable housing opportunities for both parties.” Potential matches go through a comprehensive multi-stage process to ensure the best chance of compatibility. Relationship-building begins with a two-week trial match, followed by a three-month lease that then extends to a year.
Home providers are required to offer access to a bedroom, private bathroom and use of the kitchen, as well as other agreed-upon shared spaces and amenities. Home sharers may offer drives to the supermarket or doctor’s office and help with home chores, all of which are negotiated uniquely in each match. Home-sharers are not expected to — nor advised to — provide hands-on personal care, such as assistance with bathing, dressing, lifting, or administering medications.
“We anticipate receiving more applications from home-seekers than from homeowners offering shared space, but we are only able to make as many matches as we have providers,” explains Cohen, noting that they are actively building the provider pool. Cohen adds, “Home-seekers and -sharers can include many combinations, from grad students to widows to anyone looking to share their home for any number of reasons.” The program is open to anyone 21 or older, and at least one party must be 60 or older. Typically, the senior is the home-provider, but seniors may also be home-seekers and two older adults can be matched as well.
Cohen is a native Atlantan who has more than 15 years of experience working with the aging community, including the Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC) located in the Zaban Tower and a large independent senior property in Brookhaven. She explains that flexibility, patience, kindness and adaptability are the key components of a successful match. According to Cohen, there are many reasons and benefits for someone to become a home-provider. These include safety and security, appeasing and relieving worried relatives, and most significantly, companionship. Cohen notes that in many cases both parties develop deep, enduring relationships, often becoming as close as family.
HomeShare ATL is one of nearly 50 similar programs in the U.S. and is a member of the National Shared Housing Resource Center, where resources and information on best practices are exchanged. The program is free to participants, aside from a one-time application fee of $35 to support the background screening of all providers and potential housemates, which is conducted by a third-party vendor.
“This service will help transform lives by offering older adults additional options to stay in their homes, as well as to have more help with household tasks,” says Terri Bonoff, CEO of JF&CS Atlanta. She adds that the program is a natural fit for the social services agency.
The new program complements other services for older adults offered by Aviv Older Adult Services of JF&CS, such as One Good Deed — a friendly visitor volunteer program — and other resources it provides to the Atlanta community. Learn more at jfcsatl.org/homeshareatl or call 770-677-9435.
- Senior Living
- Chana Shapiro
- Aviv Older Adult Services
- One Good Deed
- Jewish Family & Career Services
- HomeShare ATL
- Cobb County
- DeKalb County
- Fulton County
- Gwinnett County
- Jean Cohen
- housing opportunities
- Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC)
- Zaban Tower
- senior property
- National Shared Housing Resource Center
- Terri Bonoff