What is Senior Homeshares?
Senior Homeshares is an online housemate service specifically for older adults. We match elders who have extra room in their homes with elders on a fixed income who are looking for safe, affordable housing. Many of our users are empty-nesters, widows, or widowers, who may have an especially difficult time adapting to life alone.
The Scope of the Problem
There were 12 and a half million Americans over the age of 65 living alone in 2012. 70% of those were women. And people in this age group faced foreclosure eight times more often than they had just 5 years earlier. According to AARP and Harvard, the high cost of housing can cause older adults to cut back on essentials such as food and medicine.
Meanwhile, scientists are documenting what most of us intuitively know: living alone simply isn't good for us. In a society where multigenerational households are not the norm, the growing number of alone elderly has social, psychological, health and financial consequences.
Boomers Are Different
That said, if one thing is clear about Boomers, it's that we're going to change the way we age. More so than the generations that precede us, we want to remain active and independent. Yet we are also keenly aware that we are social, familial creatures, and we are willing to explore new ways of living in community, and of participating in today's sharing economy.
Senior Homeshares: One Solution
One potential solution for many homeowners and fixed income elderly is to share a home. The few elder homeshare services that already exist are mostly local, offline, and only meet a tiny percentage of the existing need. As a national online matching service, Senior Homeshares can reach the larger market and even supplement local manually-operated programs.Learn How Senior Homeshares Works →
A Quick Tour of Senior Homeshares
Senior Homeshares is, at its core, a matching service. Homeowners and home-seekers each fill out a personal profile, which includes much the same information that any roommate would want to know, but adds some questions that are unique to older users. We also encourage users to add introductory text of their own, to share hobbies, special considerations, etc.
We apply an algorithm to our user profile questions, including location and budget, and we identify potentially promising housemates. Those matches are presented to users on an ongoing basis.
Users can exchange emails (with notifications forwarded to their personal email) and decide whether someone has housemate potential. Those emails, as well as new matches, will be clearly displayed on the user’s home page.
How do we help?
Safety tips, presented on first login and available in the Help section, help members who are new to online matching services learn the best ways to meet with a housemate candidate. Additionally, our Help pages and FAQs, which are updated dynamically as new questions arise, provide a range of assistance, and related links to tools such as sample homeshare agreements.
What about discomfort with technology?
We recognize that some members may not be entirely comfortable with technology, or may not have access to a computer or tablet. We have several ways to provide assistance:
- Users may include a “helper” for their account – perhaps a friend or family member – who becomes a co-user, and can assist them with filling out the profile, even receiving copies of all messages.
- We provide phone support (in addition to email and chat) that is staffed by other experts 55 and older, so that users who need our help feel more comfortable.
- We will be actively engaging local intermediaries – public libraries, senior centers, churches and social service agencies – to assist their older constituents in using Senior Homeshares, and will provide them with marketing materials and user guides.
Lastly, an opportunity to share wisdom!
One of the fun features of Senior Homeshares is Ask Steph – an advice column by our CEO and for our users, where they can pose questions about homesharing, interpersonal relationships, or whatever else comes up. Ask Steph has a twist, however: our users will be allowed to add their own comments, blog style, and share centuries of wisdom with their fellow members!
Meet The Team
Founder and CEO
I’ve spent my professional lifetime as an online information expert, product manager and usability consultant, mostly for large companies and financial institutions. Senior Homeshares is a labor of love, where I have been able to apply my skill set to address a serious socioeconomic problem and make a tangible difference.
The concept of Senior Homeshares was born of personal experience. When my mom was no longer able to remain in her home of 50 years, my sisters and I wrestled with a problem that you may have faced already – or that you may be anticipating as your own loved ones age. Mom cherished her independence, and she wanted to remain in her home, but it was no longer safe for her to live on her own. At the time, I thought there ought to be an online service that helps elders in this situation to find each other. There wasn’t. So I decided to form a team and build one.
Chief Technology Officer
I'm the one on the left. I have been a product and technology lead in the financial industry for more than a decade. I'm excited to be working with Steph on this new challenge. A lot of my job is making sure the site is accessible and intuitive for our older user-base, who might not use the internet frequently in their day-to-day life.
Chief Operating Officer
I have spent my professional life helping companies carry out extremely successful projects, build powerful teams, run more smoothly and be more profitable. I provide a perfectly balanced "Geek-to-Business Ratio" for best performance.
My career philosophy is: Do what you love, while sharing what you've learned to help others be successful. I am passionate about mentoring and cultivating team members in business development, strategy, project operations and tactical planning - not just as a "leader" - but as a collaborative partner. I am happy to be part of a corporate culture that aligns with that idea.
I am always looking for ways to improve processes, technology, solutions, and myself.
Our press materials are here and here.
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Have questions? Email Stephanie Heacox (Founder and CEO) at firstname.lastname@example.org.