My Sister From Another Mother

By: Annette Leahy-Maggitti, Homesharing Housing Counselor

Torrie came to the St. Ambrose Homesharing program in 1989 when her daughter was four years old.  We were not able to find her a perfect match at the time, but Torrie found a home to rent in northeast Baltimore. A few years later she came back to Homesharing looking for someone to share her home and help her maintain her household. She needed someone available to be home for her daughter after school. Her daughter was then 11 years old.

Mildred, who had hit on hard times, reluctantly came to St. Ambrose. She had a heart attack and had to leave her factory job.  Her unemployment benefits were running out and she did not want her 18 and 20 year-old sons to have to take care of her.  When I interviewed her, it was clear that she was skeptical that such an arrangement could be successful. “I was a nervous wreck thinking about sharing a home with a stranger, but Torrie’s openness made me relax a bit!”

Smiles Mildred and Torrie

Both Mildred and Torrie agreed that the ‘match meeting,’ when a homesharing counselor works out an agreement with both parties, was most helpful and created the necessary boundaries to make a successful arrangement. No money was exchanged.  It was strictly a barter situation.

Mildred was able to complete a state run program that retrained her for employment and helped her get back on her feet, and she also became a surrogate grandmother to Torrie’s daughter and a close companion. Torrie said, “It was truly life changing for me. Mildred has become my best friend, my confidant. I needed someone I could trust to give me peace of mind when I had to leave my child.  Mildred was the ‘gap childcare’ I needed to be able to work full time.  I don’t know how a mom works regular hours without help.  We respected each other’s time and space. I just love her!”

Now Mildred has her own apartment but Torrie and Mildred continue to share many holidays and birthdays with eachother’s families.  “Mildred is my sister from another mother,” said Torrie, hugging her.

Share a Home, Save for a Home

Our Homesharing department has been matching homeowners and home seekers for 27 years in the Baltimore area, but only recently have we been making a strong effort to encourage this affordable housing solution for single parents. We contacted Brandy, a homesharing mom who lives in Northeast Baltimore to tell us a little bit about her homesharing experience.parent child homesharing logo final

How old is your daughter?   4 years old

Length of time home sharing: 6 months

Length of time it took to find a match: less than a week

What have you gained from Homesharing? From this home sharing experience I have gained the opportunity to cut back on my living expenses so that I can financially prepare to purchase a home.

Do you see Home sharing as a long term or temporary housing solution?  I am utilizing the home sharing program because I have a desire to purchase a home within this year.

What is something you’ve learned from your Home Provider? What is something you respect about your Home Provider?    I respect the fact that my Home Provider was willing to open her home to my daughter & me. While being in a home were my Home Provider is a home owner I have been able to witness the importance of keeping and maintaining a home. I always knew that it was a lot of responsibility that went into being a home owner, but this experience has given me an opportunity to see firsthand.

What qualities do you think make a good roommate? A good roommate is one that is very understanding, a good communicator, clean, and friendly.

What do you like best about your house? When I was in the process of searching for a home provider I was very adamant about staying in the same community. I didn’t want to pull my daughter out of the community and environment she was familiar with. The neighborhood is in a central location and in a quiet community surrounded by homeowners.

Is there anything else you’d like to share? I am very grateful for this experience because it is truly a humbling experience. Home sharing is great for any individual that is trying to find some stability and it will only work if you are willing to communicate and be patient. I would recommend home sharing to others. All home sharing experiences may vary.

Complete this sentence: Home is…. Truly a place where you are comfortable and you can relax and feel safe. ‘Home is where the heart is…’

Do you know a single parent or a homeowner who would be willing to open up their heart or their home? Contact the Homesharing department at St. Ambrose 410-366-6180 or via email at homesharing@stambros.org

Sharing Housing with International Guests, a Profitable Cultural Exchange

by Emma Jornlin

As the U.S.’ baby boomers age, most report wanting to remain in their homes, where they can be near their community. In 2009, the Pew Research Center conducted a survey of adults 65 and older living in Baltimore, found that nine out of ten respondents own their own apartment or home and the majority are very satisfied with their living arrangements.However, many Americans also have dreams of traveling to other countries, something that can be difficult when you are weighed down by a mortgage. A plane ticket to France? Not very feasible when you are stuck with a $1200 mortgage.Homesharing, the idea of renting out a room in your home to a non-related individual, allows homeowners to gain a disposable source of income while participating in a cultural exchange.Maxine Hudley, one of our HomeProviders living in the Belair-Edison neighborhood, has had a positive experience sharing her home with people from other cultures. This past year, she hosted a woman from Ethiopia who spoke little English and couldn’t afford an apartment with her job at 7-11. Over the 16 months sharing her home with Tarik, Maxine earned $6000 in rental income. Tarik, in turn, saved an estimated $11,600 on rent by living with Maxine. The following is an excerpt of an interview Emma Jornlin, a LVC working in the Homesharing program this year, conducted with Maxine. St Ambrose: Why did you decide to share your home?

Maxine: I needed the additional funds. And the great thing about me is I have a big heart.

St. Ambrose: Shared housing, the idea of sharing housing with non-family members, is very popular in other countries. For example, if you study abroad in university anywhere from Germany to Ecuador, you will be invited to stay with a host family. Why do you think it’s less popular in the U.S.?

Maxine: Well, I didn’t know about it until a few years ago. I heard about it on the radio. Then I read this article about a woman sharing her home with a gentlemen and it really impressed me.

St. Ambrose: You’ve shared your home with a number of people from other cultures. How do you communicate when you don’t speak the same language?

Maxine: She (Tarik) had someone who could interpret for her. She would call them up. Also, even though we don’t speak the same language, there’s a million other ways to work things out. Like when she wasn’t locking the door, I couldn’t make myself understood verbally, so I’d take her to the door and show her how to lock it. And she would do the same thing with me. The mattress was lumpy and she took me to the bed to show me. So I went out and bought a new mattress—for both of my Homeseekers.

St. Ambrose: Would you recommend Homesharing to others?

Maxine: Yes. 100%.

 

… and now for our Spanish readersEn Español:Mientras los ‘baby boomers’ de los E.E.U.U. maduran, la mayoría reportan que ellos quieren quedarse en sus casa, donde ellos puedan estar cerca de sus comunidades. En 2009, el Pew Research Center, conducto una investigación de adultos de 65 de edad viviendo en Baltimore, encontrando que nuevo de los diez respondientes tienen su propio casa o apartamento y la mayoría están muy satisfechas con sus vivencias.Pero muchos estadounidenses también tienen un sueño de viajar a otros países, algo que puede ser difícil cuando tiene una hipoteca grande. ¿Un vuelo a Francia? No es muy viable cuando Ud. tiene una hipoteca de $1200.Homesharing, el idea de rentar un cuarto en su casa a una persona quien no es familia, permite que el dueño de la casa obtener un fuente de dinero disponible mientras participando en un intercambio cultural.Maxine Hudley, uno de nuestros dueños de casa viviendo en el barrio Belair, ha tenido una buena experiencia compartiendo su casa con una persona de otra cultura. Este ano pasado, a ella alojo una mujer de Ethiopia quien no hablaba mucho inglés y no podía afordar un apartamento con su trabajo en 7-11. En los 16 meses compartiendo su casa con Tarik, Maxine ganó $6000. Tarik guardo $11,600 en renta.St. Ambrose: ¿Por qué decidió Ud. compartir su casa?

Maxine: Yo necesitaba los fondos adicionales. Y lo bueno de mi es que tengo un gran corazón.

St. Ambrose: El idea de compartir una casa con otra persona quien no es familia es muy popular en otros países. Por ejemplo, si Ud. estudia en otro país por su universidad en Alemania hasta Ecuador, le van a invitar a Ud. quedarse con una familia. ¿Por qué piensa Ud. que este concepto no es tan popular en los EEUU?

Maxine: Pues, yo no conocía el concepto antes de unos años atrás. Yo oí un advertismo en el radio. Después, leí un artículo en el periódico de una mujer compartiendo su casa con un hombre y me impresiono mucho.

St. Ambrose: Ud. Ha compartido su casa con gente de otras culturas. ¿Cómo comunica ustedes cuando no hablan el mismo idioma?

Maxine: Ella (Tarik) tenía alguien para interpretar por ella. Les llamaba por el teléfono celular. También, aun cuando nosotros no hablamos el mismo idioma, hay un millón de otras maneras comunicar. Por ejemplo, cuando ella no estaba cerrando la puerta con candado, yo no podía explicarlo verbalmente, entonces yo le llevaría a la puerta y le mostraba como hacerlo. Y a ella hizo lo mismo conmigo. El cochón estaba lleno de grumos y a ella me llevo a la cama para mostrármelo. Y por eso, yo salí a comprar un nuevo cochón—para los dos Home Seekers.

St. Ambrose: ¿Ud. recomendaría Homesharing a otra gente?

Maxine: Sí. 100%.

 

 

For our Spanish readers, connect with Southeast CDC for help purchasing a home

Homesharing: Connecting Compatible Roommates

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By Emma Jornlin

Homesharing is a great option for those who don’t want to live alone. Oftentimes individuals who come to St. Ambrose are looking for a roommate but, for various reasons, don’t want to live with family or close friends.

The benefits of Homesharing abound. On the Home Provider’s part, sharing your house can mean assistance with household expenses, receiving help with chores or, as a recent article in the Chicago Tribune mentioned, just having someone with whom to watch Dancing with the Stars!

On the Home Seeker’s part, moving in with a Home Provider in Baltimore City/County can mean obtaining affordable housing while having the opportunity to share in someone lifestyle or culture—even being welcomed into the family. One of our Home Providers introduces Home Seekers to her grandkids when they visit. Another invites her Homesharers upstairs for Friday night dinners.

For those who don’t like the idea of having to greet someone before they’ve had their coffee or navigating someone  shower schedule, private baths and entrances are available for a slightly higher price than the average $450-500/month.

Our goal at St. Ambrose is to match people based on personality and preferences so that our Home Owners find the right person to share their home and our Home Seekers feel genuinely welcome there.

Here is an overview of our process:

  1. Homeowners apply through our online application or request a mail-in form.
  2. Homeowners are interviewed in their home.
  3. Homeseekers are interviewed at St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center.
  4. Homesharing staff screen and check references of Home Providers and Home Seekers to make sure they have a clean criminal history, no current addictions, and that they have a good rental history.
  5. Our Homesharing Counselors discuss and refer possible Homesharers, based on asking rent, location, and other “non-negotiables,” as well as based on personality and likes/dislikes.
  6. Home Seekers visit the Home Provider’s’ homes until each party decides on a roommate they like.
  7. Our staff meets with the Homesharers to formalize the match.
  8. We check in on the match once a quarter for the first year and provide free mediation services if needed.

The Homesharing Department is reachable at: (410) 366-6180 or you can go to www.stambros.org