From CALmatters: Finding housing was one of the first challenges Alyssa Mathiowetz faced as a new graduate student at the University of California at Berkeley. She landed a room in a shared house near campus, but it came with a steep price tag: $1,500 a month.
“It’s definitely on the expensive side,” said the PhD student in metabolic biology.
Mathiowetz’s rent could soon decrease, however, thanks to a new homesharing program that matches graduate students looking for housing with retirees who have extra space in their homes. Its organizers hope the program will prove successful enough to export to other UC campuses.
College students have been hit hard by California’s housing crisis, struggling to find affordable digs near campuses that in many cases are located in the state’s priciest markets.
The median apartment rent in Berkeley tops $3,500 per month, according to real estate website Zillow. On-campus housing is scarce, and ten percent of students in a recent survey reported being homeless at some point in their college careers.
Meanwhile, along the city’s idyllic, tree-lined streets, aging homeowners who bought in decades ago have stayed put as property values rose around them.
Staff at Berkeley’s Retirement Center started strategizing last year about how to bring the two groups together. They won a grant from the chancellor’s office for a pilot program that will match six students with senior hosts for the spring semester.
“People want to continue living in their homes, and people are living longer and retiring later,” said Andy Gaines, the executive director of Ashby Village, a non-profit serving senior citizens that’s partnering with UC Berkeley on the project. “And oftentimes as people retire from the workforce and their friends and family die or move away, they are left more isolated.”
Sharing their homes with students can provide seniors with a sense of community, Gaines said.
Students will pay below-market rent—less than $1,000 per month—for bedrooms inside the homes of retired university faculty and staff...