Free online course teaches successful home sharing

DUMMERSTON — Sharing Housing, Inc., a Vermont-based nonprofit whose mission is to develop shared housing in communities through education and advocacy, has announced two online courses to encourage shared housing as an answer to the twin crises of affordable housing and social isolation.

“Five Key Benefits of Shared Housing,” a free course, will introduce you to the world of shared housing and “show you how living together can improve your physical, emotional, and spiritual health.”

This course covers housing cost burdens and social isolation and the high effect of these on seniors, different ways housemates can provide mutual support, and how shared housing can lower environmental impact

“Sharing Housing 101,” the $80 follow-up course, covers the initial decisions you need to make before beginning a “home-mate,” the six-stage process to go about it, plus guidelines for living well with others.

“Shared housing is a win-win solution,” says Dummerston resident Annamarie Pluhar, founder and president of Sharing Housing, Inc. “But - and it's a big 'but' - shared housing is only a win-win solution if you are living with a person or people who are compatible enough with the way you live that everyone is comfortable.”

She said people can learn how to do that through the Sharing Housing 101 course.

According to Harvard University's The State of the Nation's Housing 2021 study, “millions of households that lost income during the shutdowns are behind on their housing payments and on the brink of eviction or foreclosure.”

Pluhar said home sharing can solve multiple problems - the lack of affordable housing, the ability of homeowners to cover the rising costs of property upkeep and taxes, and the crisis of social isolation that many older Americans face.

Pluhar said the nonprofit is dedicated to promoting shared housing through advocacy and education, aiming to change the cultural assumption that shared housing is a “less than” solution through working with organizations, housing professionals, the aging network, and local officials seeking innovative models.

Over the years, Pluhar has advocated for older adults, especially those who are single, to have a “home-mate,” someone with whom they can share a home to reduce housing expenditures, enjoy the benefits of company, and find community, cooperation, and comfort.

She is the author of Sharing Housing: A Guidebook for Finding and Keeping Good Housemates, based on her own personal experiences of living in shared housing for the past 20 years. She has been a guest blogger for the online magazine Sixty and Me and is a contributing expert for the newsletter of Silvernest, a site that helps potential roommates find one another.

“If only 10 percent of the estimated 54 million empty bedrooms were occupied by housemates, over 5 million Americans could be living in affordable housing this year, but few even consider this option,” Pluhar said. “How do we encourage this? By telling people that this option is viable, realistic, and a win/win solution.”

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