My name is Matt. I wanted to take a moment to write a quick note to you and your organization in order to say thank you for all the help HomeSharing has provided to my father, Jeff.
To give you a little back story, recently my father was threatened with homelessness due to the fact he was being evicted from his home of 27 years, from a bank foreclosure. So I went online and started to search for resources I could turn to for help with my Dad’s situation and came across HomeSharing.org. After reading through your site, I decided to get in contact with the organization as I felt you might be able to help. My Dad is a very personable, intelligent and fairly conscientious person so I thought he had a fairly good chance of being able to match up with someone who was looking to share their home. He also has very limited resources, so it was probably a good fit from a “resources" point of view as well.
I placed a call to try to find out more about your program, and made contact with Claudia Yurecko. During our short conversation, Claudia explained the program to me and that it could take a couple of months to place a ‘Seeker’. I mentioned to Claudia where I lived and that my Mom was housed in an assisted living facility in a nearby town (both in Hunterdon County). At that point Claudia realized she had an immediate opening in the same town where my Mom’s facility is located and that it might be a perfect fit for my Dad!
Well, to make a long story short, all the pieces fell into place. Within the space of two weeks (from the time I made initial contact to the time my Dad will move into his new space), Claudia and HomeSharing had completed the process with my Dad.
He will move into his new home this Sunday. You cannot imagine how much of a relief it is for me to know my Dad will be in a safe place, with other people his age, and they will all be helping each other out. It feels as if the world has been lifted from my shoulders.
I also just want to say that Claudia was a joy to work with, and it was her quick thinking and proactive attitude that has saved my Dad. And your organization is a perfect illustration of how a valuable, well-functioning and vital organization that endeavors to help the less fortunate should perform and function.
You and everyone within HomeSharing should be very proud! So once again, on behalf of myself and my Dad – THANK YOU. Your organization has made a huge difference in our lives!
Joan & Ann
HomeSharing matched Joan, a 73-year-old homeowner, with Ann, a 59-year-old home seeker. Both are widows who, together, have found a new and satisfying life. “I didn’t like my first match," Joan said. “She tried to boss me around. She didn’t allow me to burn candles and do certain things. And, you know, it’s my house. She moved to Massachusetts."
In Ann, however, Joan found the perfect companion. Both women get up very early in the morning — Joan to take care of her great-grandchildren, Ann to drive a school bus. By 9 a.m. each day, they’re usually both back home and ready for morning coffee, which, in certain seasons, includes watching the birds and wildlife.
“Ann and I are companions for each other, but she also pays $650 a month in rent, which helps me with my bills," Joan said. “Otherwise, I couldn’t stay here. I have a big house — three bedrooms and 11/2 baths — and I have a mortgage, too, at my age. It’s expensive to live here.
“I have almost three acres, and she loves to garden," she added. “We go shopping together. We split the groceries. I cook for her. I’m not supposed to cook for her, but what the heck? I’m not going to eat in front of her. I enjoy cooking for her."
Cathy, a recently divorced woman in her mid-sixties with no children, was still working as a nurse. She was trying to delay retirement as long as possible, since she was now solely responsible for her mortgage and wanted to make sure her social security benefits would be at the highest monthly rate possible so she could maintain her four bedroom house, her only real asset. She contacted HomeSharing to become a home provider, with the intent of renting a room to reduce her monthly bills and allow for some savings. She was tired and achy after work, though, and wasn’t sure how long she could sustain working full-time. She went through the HomeSharing process of screening, reference checks, and initial interview/home visit. HomeSharing had several seekers to refer to Cathy, but she did not return their or our calls. She then called again in September, saying she was ill and would like her case put on hold while she got treatment. She called again just prior to Thanksgiving, to report she had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma and was just returning from hospitalization. Instead of renting a room, she would like, as soon as possible, for someone to provide services- cooking, cleaning, and shopping- in exchange for a place to live.
Enter Jill, in her mid-fifties, who had just become homeless. She lost her job at a daycare center, had difficulty paying her rent, was terminated from unemployment, was illegally evicted from her apartment (a lock put on the door), and she had been staying on the couches of different friends, all of whom wanted her out by the holidays. She had absolutely no income.
Jill and Cathy hit it off immediately, since both had worked in care-giving professions and were divorced. Jill was additionally referred to social services for additional income, health insurance, and food. Jill is now looking for a part-time job. Cathy is recovering, and looking for a second home seeker to provide some extra income.
For most of his nine decades, John has been a vibrant and independent man. Even into his 80s, he remained employed as an engineer, finally retiring at the age of 87. In his rural community he is regarded by many as a “pillar of the community” and a “gentleman of the old school.” He was active in his church where he taught Sunday School for four decades and was involved in a wide range of community activities. But now, at the age of 93, John has begun to slow down and he needs assistance on his literal gentleman’s farm. Though he is in excellent physical health, the widower was beginning finally to exhibit signs of his physical age. He was getting forgetful and wanted companionship, someone who could do the errands and share his dinners.
That’s how Pat came into his life. Pat, 60, was a live-in caregiver whose patient died after they were together for more than eight years. She had a job as a nursing assistant at a Somerset County nursing home but the salary was not enough for her to afford rent for her and her 29-year-old daughter, a student. So Pat, a single parent, came to HomeSharing. Pat had heard that HomeSharing matches housing providers with housing seekers. But, most importantly, she knew that HomeSharing creates matches that are not totally dependent on finances; seekers could also earn their rent by performing services to providers. And that was key for Pat who, as a caregiver, was “willing to do anything that is needed.”
Through HomeSharing, John and Pat became a match. In exchange for 20 hours of service a week, John provides Pat and her daughter room and board. Paulette does the grocery shopping, runs errands for John, helps him with his busy social calendar and accompanies him to church every Sunday if he feels up to it. And when Pat cannot do these tasks her adult daughter, gladly assumes these responsibilities.
The match has been a success. John is maintaining his independence and is staying in his beloved home with a little help from Pat and her daughter. And Pat has found a home for her and her daughter, maintaining her independence as well.
Florence lives alone in her own home. Her children live out of town. Her income is enough to cover her monthly expenses. After having some heart-related problems and hospitalizations, she was not able to do the things she used to do, and had to hire people for assistance with errands, housekeeping and transportation to doctors. She no longer had enough money for other necessities. Her children thought Florence should sell her house and go to an assisted living facility or nursing home, or at least downsize to a smaller, more affordable residence. Florence did not want this.
That’s where HomeSharing came in. We matched Florence with a younger senior, newly divorced, who works part-time and needed an affordable place to live while getting back on her feet. She pays Florence $400 per month, and does Florence’s shopping, housekeeping, and provides rides to doctors, in exchange for her own room and bathroom and shared use of the common areas of the home. She also gives Florence peace of mind, since someone is sleeping in the house in case of an emergency.
Amy’s 90 year old father Sam is a Homesharing Provider. He is a veteran and has always been fiercely independent, but as the years passed, it became clear to their family that in order for him to remain in his own home, he would require some additional assistance with daily tasks like meal preparation, grocery shopping, laundry, and various household activities. They reached out to Homesharing. After several meetings, question & answer discussions, references and paper work, Sam was very optimistic! Together, Amy and Sam interviewed several people. HomeSharing guided them through the process of searching for just the right match for Sam. They suggested questions to ask the Seeker, such as “Do you smoke?” “Do you have food allergies?” HomeSharing addressed all aspects of the living arrangement, including shared spaces, household expenses and responsibilities for each person.
According to Amy, the Seeker (Mary) has been a wonderful addition to her father’s home. Without The Seeker’s assistance it would be a struggle for Amy to keep Sam living in his own home and still manage her own life. Mary has provided friendship to not only Sam, but to Amy’s family as well. Mary gives Sam assistance in immeasurable ways, keeping Amy informed when he is not feeling well, selecting his favorite foods at the grocery store, taking him on occasional outings, bringing him library books, helping with small household repairs… even assisting him with computer tech issues!
Mary is a compassionate and caring person and Amy cannot imagine what life would be like for Sam without her! Amy is in touch with her father almost every day and has noticed that he is much more relaxed, confident about being in his own home, more talkative, and overall happier since sharing a home with Mary.
I met Barbara for the first time when she came into the Homesharing office with an unusual request. Barbara, a long-term home provider in Somerset County wanted to know how to reduce the fee she charged for the room in her home when originally matched to her seeker Anna! Since this match predated my history with Homesharing, I asked if I could visit her home and meet with both of them to discuss this change and modify the contract if necessary. I had no idea I was in the company of a famously talented woman!
While touring Barbara’s home, I was immediately struck by the vast artwork adorning her walls, which she modestly stated were her own illustrations and designs! A walk upstairs revealed a vast collection of puppets and dolls in several curio cabinets around the room. Many were recognizable to me and Barbara explained she worked as a freelance designer for Children’s Television Workshop which included Jim Henson’s Muppets for many years! In fact, she was the original illustrator for the Sesame Street books I read to my children so many years ago!
Okay, I was star struck for sure by now, but it was time to learn about Barbara’s history with Homesharing and how I could help her. Barbara moved to Somerset years ago to be nearer to her family. She purchased a beautiful home but quickly discovered it was financially difficult to maintain on her own. A social service agency referred her to Homesharing and while a first “go” at a match did not work out, the next one would prove to be a life changing.
Barbara and Anna became quick friends once she learned Anna “was a Virgo too” and loved to cook. Three years later she describes her relationship with Anna as “out of this world”! “Anna changed my life in every way! We take care of each other!” Barbara relayed how Anna who has a love of gardening transformed her entire backyard into a flower oasis! “We have a lot of fun together; laugh a lot and I think I’ve helped her grow too.”
It was easy to understand now why Barbara wanted to make life easier for her friend and reduce the amount of money she paid into the household. “Homesharing definitely took the edge off my financial struggles and I want to do the same for Anna. Homesharing gave me a kind, sweet and gentle person. She is the best thing that happened to me!”
Before leaving and asking if I could share her story, I was handed an 11×14 personally signed copy of a drawing of Big Bird. What an unexpected treasure for me.
By Claudia Yurecko, Program Coordinator
Susan recently separated from her husband of 30 years, which was devastating for her. She was introduced to HomeSharing by someone she spoke to about finding a home for her cat. Because of her limited income, it was nearly impossible for her to find affordable living anywhere. She called HomeSharing and was put in contact with three different providers who were interested in sharing their home. She clicked with an elderly woman.
After meeting in the Provider’s home they each went over what their needs, wants and expectations were and seemed to have a lot in common. They were exactly what the other was looking for. The Provider not only provided the comfort of her home but also the peace of mind Susan so desperately needed. Susan gave the Provider companionship, the feeling of security (not only for her but for her sons who live out of state) knowing there is someone else in the home, not to mention the extra spending cash she looked forward to each month.
They have been together for two years. Susan is forever grateful to HomeSharing for not only giving her shelter in a time of need but turning that shelter into what became her home and her place of peace. It turned her life around financially and emotionally- and did so for the homeowner as well.
Amy, 58 years old, walked into the HomeSharing office a few months ago. She was visibly distraught and wanted to know if she was eligible for housing through our program, which she learned about through a co-worker. Amy had been living with her boyfriend for four years but since their breakup several months earlier she had not been able to find affordable housing.
She was living in her van. Worried about losing her full-time job as a cashier at a local retail chain, she was using the township YWCA to shower and the local laundromat to clean her clothes. Amy had slept at friends’ and coworkers’ houses during extremely hot days but she knew this was only a temporary solution. She was nervous that she would not find affordable housing by the time the cold weather set in, when living in her van would become both uncomfortable and dangerous to her health. Concerned for her safety as well, we asked where she parked each night. Amy said she told her store manager about her situation and he was allowing her to temporarily keep her van in the parking lot of the store during the overnights and had the local police checking on her well-being.
Upon checking the references cited on her Homesharing application, Amy’s supervisor and coworkers described her as responsible, kind-hearted and dependable. Amy was matched with a retired elderly couple who were looking to fill a vacant room in their suburban ranch home. The couple was willing to rent the bedroom for only $500 because they had more space than they needed and the husband often traveled. They both felt they would benefit from the extra companionship. When the couple was informed about Amy’s circumstances, they were willing to meet her right away. A happy ending: Amy and the couple had a “meet and greet” and they all decided this felt like a good match.
Amy loved the peaceful country setting and the affordable price. It would give her the opportunity to catch up on her bills while putting a little money away for the future. The couple liked that Amy was a survivor who managed to keep working each day while struggling through her situation. A Shared Living Arrangement was prepared with everyone’s participation, papers signed and a move-in date set. At the one month check-up the couple reported they enjoyed having Amy who was a grateful, polite and quiet home sharer. Amy reported finally having peace of mind and a safe place to live with wonderful people.
“June” was very nearly at her breaking point when she first learned about HomeSharing. A long series of family tragedies, job losses, and health problems had left her alone, depressed, and unable to pay for even absolute necessities. Having fallen further and further behind on the rent for her apartment and facing imminent eviction, June was preparing to live in her car because she knew of no acceptable alternative. Fortunately both her doctor and her therapist were determined to find another solution, and while researching possibilities, they discovered HomeSharing.
June was “ready to give up,” but HomeSharing’s Social Worker Claudia “worked and worked and worked” on her behalf. The first match they tried was not a good fit, nor was the second, but Claudia refused to allow June to live in her car. Luckily, a third place became available after another HomeSharing client moved out. When Claudia introduced June to that Provider, the two formed a bond based on the importance of their religious beliefs, and the meeting was a success!
June was able to move in to this last place a month after her first contact with HomeSharing and now shares a small guesthouse in a beautiful woodland setting with another HomeSharing Seeker. The two women lead very independent lives and seldom see one another, but they get along very well because each respects the other’s privacy. June loves seeing nature, including deer, just outside her door and says her new home is “the perfect place” for her.
Two months after June moved into the cottage, she found a job she loves working for people who appreciate her. Now in her early 60’s, June had been gainfully employed all her life until recently and says, “It is a very good feeling” to be able to begin saving again. June calls HomeSharing her Guardian Angel and has the following advice for others: “When you feel there is no way out, go to HomeSharing. They will work with you, and they don’t give up on you.”
“Anna” came to HomeSharing as she was being discharged from a rehab after a broken hip. It seems that while Anna was hospitalized and in the rehab, her roommate (privately arranged, not through HomeSharing) was evicted. All of Anna’s things were gone and she was suddenly homeless. We made a match through HomeSharing in the same town. The Provider had a furnished room for Anna and we got her clothing donations (her only remaining belongings were at the rehab with her).
However, Anna was having trouble getting into the bed at the Provider’s home and had to sleep on the couch. When this lasted more than a month the Provider no longer wanted Anna to stay there, but agreed to let her stay until we found something else for her. We began looking for subsidized senior housing for Anna. Accompanied by the social worker, she put in applications at any place that would accept them. The HomeSharing social worker used her contacts to get Anna moved up on the list and an apartment became available within weeks.
To make matters worse, all of Anna’s documentation was lost during the eviction and these documents were needed to complete the move into the senior housing. The social worker helped Anna obtain her birth certificate and social security card, which required in-person visits to get done in a timely manner.
We solicited donations of clothing, household items and gift cards (for other essentials) for Anna to set up housekeeping. We made a contact with College Hunks Hauling Junk to furnish her apartment for free, including the delivery and set up of the furniture (bedroom, kitchen, living room).
Though she was not in a HomeSharing match, we continued to follow up with Anna for a couple of months to ensure she was thriving in her apartment.
At approximately 12:40 a.m. on a cold winter night, “Jackie” looked out of her bathroom window to see the outside of the home she rented on fire. Frantically, she ran and woke up all eight people who were asleep in the main house and helped them escape to safety. By the time the fire department arrived, the entire house was engulfed in flames. Jackie lost everything she owned including her car, which was incinerated.
Jackie was placed in a local motel by her insurance company, but the arrangement was time limited. That’s when they told her about HomeSharing. Jackie worked full time at a retail chain and needed to get back to work but first she needed a place to live.
She placed a call and reached Claudia at HomeSharing, who explained the program and began the application process. Within two weeks she received a call that a room in a Provider’s home became available. A meeting was arranged, and after sharing her background and work history, she discovered she knew the homeowners’ son who had worked at the very same store several years earlier! A match was made!
“HomeSharing was the light at the end of my tunnel! After being displaced for so many weeks and needing to rely on others for clothes and transportation, I finally had a place to call home again! This was a perfect match for me. Bill and Laura are so welcoming and made me feel rooted again.”
A month later, Jackie reported she found a Mini-Cooper like the one she lost in the fire and was busy zipping back and forth to work again. Slowly, she is replacing the things she lost and is grateful for the new things she’s found– new friends and a new home.
“Thank you HomeSharing for all you do”!