What is a "helper"?
If you don't feel comfortable using our site without assistance, you can add a helper to your account - for example, a child, grandchild or friend - who becomes a "co-user" of the site with you. They will be able to help you with your profile, and send and receive messages for you, if you like.
Do I have to post a photo?
You do not have to post a photo, either of yourself or of your home (if you are offering to share your home).
However, and this is a *big* however, think about the impression you are creating. Would you like to see a photo of a potential housemate? Most people would! So consider posting a photo of yourself, because it makes people more comfortable.
As for your home, we strongly recommend posting photos, as well. If you spend any time on real estate sites, you will notice that photos are almost always available - there's a reason for that! People will naturally want to see any home where they might consider living, and might avoid any housing profile that doesn't include pictures.
If you have an iPad, it is particularly easy to take photos and add them to our site. Just click the button on the house profile page and you will be walked through a very simple process, step by step. If you don't have an iPad, you can upload photos that are already on your PC or laptop.
I've never used an online service before; how can I get a real live human being to help me?
We designed Senior Homeshares to support several kinds of in-person help:
- You can contact us via the customer service box at the bottom right of the screen (when you are logged in).
- You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- You can add a "helper" - like a son or daughter, friend, or neighbor - to your account (click here to do that). Your helper can assist you in filling out your profile, or even sending or answering your email.
- We encourage local organizations such as libraries, senior centers, churches and social service organizations to let neighborhood elders know about Senior Homeshares, and we will provide them instructions on how to help others use the service. They can email us at email@example.com.
How exactly does Senior Homeshares work?
Senior Homeshares is a homeshare service. We match older homeowners who have more home than they need (or can afford) with older adults who are looking for safe, affordable housing. Remember the old sitcom "Golden Girls"? We help to create Golden Girl (or Guy) households. Here's how we do it:
- Each person fills out a short, anonymous profile form about themselves and what they are looking for in a housemate
- Homeowners also fill out basic information about their home
- Our system matches up homeowners and home-seekers based on what they have put in their profiles
- When you log in, you will see a list of folks who match up with you
- You read their profiles, and if someone seems like they could be a good fit, you send them a message (but please read our Safety Tips below first on how to contact people safely.)
- Once you have written back and forth a bit, if you like each other, you can meet in a neutral place, like a coffee shop, and see how you get along
- When you find a housemate, it's up to you to determine the details of how you want to share a home
- Our Help pages have links to sample home share agreements and other tools and services you may wish to use
I'm new to this. Do you have safety tips for me?
Yes! Here are some safety tips for using Senior Homeshares:
- Only send messages through the Senior Homeshares site (or from messages that we forward to you). Our message system will never reveal your real email address to others, and you shouldn't either. We will forward any new messages to your email address, but to answer those messages, you will still be securely linked back to our site.
- Beware anyone who asks you to send money. Money should never change hands until you have gone through a process of meeting, getting to know each other, deciding that you would like to be housemates, and setting up whatever formalities you agree on (like a homeshare agreement, reference check, etc.)
- Never, ever, give a stranger your home address. Meet them first (see the next item), and do not share address information until you are truly comfortable doing so.
- Meet in a public place. There is safety in numbers. Meet for the first time in a public place like a restaurant, coffee shop or busy park. Never give someone your address or invite them to your home until you really get to know them.
- Take a friend or family member along, or let them know about your meeting. It's always good to get a trusted second opinion, so consider taking a friend or family member along for the first meeting. Alternatively, make sure you share with a friend or family member the details about where and who you are meeting: name, phone number, and any other additional information you have about your potential housemate. You can also ask your friend to call you during the meeting to let them know how you are doing. In fact, this can be used as an escape clause if you feel like the meeting isn’t going well: "I'm sorry, Joan, my friend needs me because of an emergency and I have to leave.”
- Put any agreements in writing. While it is up to you how formal you want your home share arrangement to be, a good homeshare agreement can prevent misunderstandings later on. We have links to sample agreements in our Helpful Links section.
- Ask for - and check - references. We have provided a list of background and credit check services in our Helpful Links section, or you can consult the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org.
- Keep a trusted friend or family member in the loop. As noted above, it's always good to have a second opinion. Ask someone you trust to meet your potential housemate, review any agreements, or anything else that makes you feel more secure in your home sharing arrangement.