Pierce County: Homesharing program helps prevent homelessness before it happens

PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. -- A shared housing program is creating unique and mutually beneficial matches between homeowners and people looking for affordable housing.

Bill and Noel Hagens opened up their home in Tacoma four months ago to college student Alexis Cheeseboro.

“I think it’s unsustainable for two people to live in a house of this size,” said Noel. “We really need to build community starting with our extra bedroom.”

“I go to school full-time and I also work, so being able to afford housing and still go to school, it’s very hard. So shared housing definitely helped a lot,” said Alexis Cheeseboro.

The shared housing arrangement is managed by Shared Housing Services (SHS) in Pierce County, which is listed in the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation database.

The Adult Homesharing Program matches homeowners, many of whom are elderly or disabled, that need extra income, help with chores or companionship with people seeking affordable housing.

“People on fixed income, disabled person or even a low-income household who needs some help around the home to remain stably housed,” said Mark Merrill, Executive Director of SHS. “There’s no inexpensive apartments anymore so this allows someplace to live so they can save up.”

This past year the program matched 70 homeowners with housemates. There are currently more than 150 active shared housing matches through the program.

Merrill believes this nearly three-decade-long program is one way to alleviate homelessness before it becomes an issue in someone’s life.

As you may suspect, the demand for people seeking shared housing greatly outweighs the people providing it.

If you’re interested, contact Shared Housing Services here or at (253) 272-1532.