News: Can Sydney's housing affordability crisis be solved with homeshare between the young and elderly?

Published at ABC 702 online, 25 October 2016

Eight years ago, Barbara Squires was in a financial dilemma. Her marriage had broken down and she was struggling to keep up with the large mortgage repayments on her Redfern terrace with a single income.

Her solution was to return to her university days of share houses, but this time with someone far younger than her.

Ms Squires, who was 60 at the time, invited 23-year-old Iranian student Niloufar Imanriad to share her home.

"She pays me a modest rent, she helps around the house, she's good company," Ms Squires said.

Ms Squires has been contracted by Parramatta council to conduct a feasibility study into homeshare arrangements like hers.

She previously worked for the Benevolent Society which ran a homeshare program, but that ended about 10 years ago.

The scheme was shut down due to lack of state funding and interest from people in the older age bracket.

Ms Squires said the feasibility study was timely given a report by the Department of Planning and Environment which found that over 500,000 homes in NSW occupied by residents aged over 50 had with at least two empty bedrooms.

But rather than encourage older people to downsize, she said homeshare should be also considered a viable option.

"What we often find is there is a huge demand from people who need affordable accommodation and [are] perfectly happy to have shared accommodation, but it's the older people who are not particularly willing," Ms Squires said.

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