The causes of and solutions to King County’s housing crisis continue to be researched, discussed, and debated. As only one example, a new report produced by researchers at the Washington State University Metropolitan Center for Applied Research & Extension, Moving Toward Age-Friendly Housing in King County, discusses housing challenges facing older adults and predicts that many of these challenges may get worse as the population ages. The report was commissioned by Aging and Disability Services and several partner agencies.
One of the report’s 20 recommendations was to explore technology solutions to address challenges related to housing and older adult services. PNA Village, a program of the Phinney Neighborhood Association that supports older adults aging in community, has taken a step forward by partnering with a technology firm to create an innovative home-sharing solution.
Staff and volunteers at PNA Village have witnessed and felt the impact of the housing crisis for a long time. Some members, both homeowners and renters, have been forced to leave the community they love because they can no longer afford to stay. In many discussions on the issue, the concept of home sharing keeps coming up as a possible solution.
Home sharing is when a “home provider” offers a room or an “accessory dwelling unit” (sometimes called a mother-in-law apartment) to a home seeker in exchange for some form of financial contribution, assistance with household tasks, or companionship. According to proponents, home sharing benefits include the creation of more affordable housing options, an income stream for home providers, increased security for both the home seeker and provider, and a greater sense of community in a neighborhood.
The national Village to Village network introduced PNA Village staff to Silvernest, an online home share “matchmaking” company. Silvernest delivers pre-screened and pre-qualified prospective housemates to individuals who have an extra room or apartment to share. In addition, they offer lease preparation, automated rent processing, and payment tracking tools. Since PNA Village vets businesses on behalf of their members, they fully screened Silvernest before approving the company as their home sharing resource.
PNA Village director Riana Nolet is excited about this new partnership. She said, “As a village program focused on building a community around our elders and keeping elders in the community, home sharing is a very practical solution that supports this vision.”
Greenwood Senior Center director Cecily Kaplan agreed, pointing out that PNA Village’s partnership with Silvernest “provides a creative solution to lack of housing options in Seattle,” which she called a “win/win all around.”
The partnership allows Silvernest home share to roll out citywide in Seattle. Silvernest’s website can be used by older adults and others who live outside the city. For those interested in learning more, PNA Village is holding a community event that is especially for homeowners and housing seekers. Open to everyone, “Home Sharing Comes to Seattle!” will take place on Saturday, June 23, 2018 (9:30–11 a.m.) in the Community Hall at Phinney Neighborhood Center’s Brick Building (6615 Dayton Avenue N, Seattle).
As the Area Agency on Aging for King County, Aging and Disability Services will continue to create plans and reports focusing on housing and other key issues for older adults. We are grateful for the community-based organizations, advocates, and activists who recognize when opportunities arise and take action to get things done quickly. Online home sharing programs will need to be one of many potential solutions if we are to effectively address the housing crisis and continue to move toward age-friendly housing.
For more information about Silvernest, visit www.silvernest.com/how-it-works.
Contributor Jon Morrison Winters is the lead planner on transportation and housing issues for Aging and Disability Services, the Area Agency on Aging for Seattle-King County. He can be reached at Jon.MorrisonWinters@seattle.gov or 206-684-0654.