New York

A Home Sharing Program Creates Roommates Out of Seniors and College Kids

What to Know

  • The New York Foundation for Senior Citizens' Home Sharing program sets up seniors with roommates.
  • The program has the potential to create roommate pairings with wide age differences.
  • There is almost a 50 year age difference between Trinna and Donald, two roommates who matched through the program.

In a small apartment in Inwood live Donald Blackwell, 68, and Trinna Larsen, 21, a pair of roommates mismatched in age but not in spirit.

Trinna is a college student staying in New York for the summer. Donald is local. The two were able to find each other through a home sharing program that matches seniors who have free space in their apartments with those needing a place to stay in New York.

The Home Sharing program is run by the New York Foundation for Senior Citizens and is partly funded by the New York City Department for the Aging. The program has many benefits for both host and applicant. For the senior host, the program can supply financial support and ease social isolation, a major challenge to geriatric wellbeing and mental health. And then there is the struggle for financial stability. Many in the program, like Donald, have no active income. New York’s high rents make it hard for these seniors to remain in their homes.

In Donald’s case, he was able to avoid eviction and remain living an independent life through the foundation and Trinna’s support, he said. Trinna was able to find an affordable place to stay in Manhattan and avoid the overwhelming process of apartment hunting for a summer’s stay.

Both gained companionship from each other. Donald became Trinna’s New York guru, showing her around the neighborhood and teaching her local knowledge. “We walk to the grocery store…he’s given me tips on the different areas of the neighborhood. I get someone I can trust” says Trinna. Trinna became someone in Donald’s life who he considers “like a granddaughter”.

When Trinna leaves New York to go back to college, the foundation will set up Donald with a new roommate. “I know she’s leaving in September,” says Donald. “Hopefully the next person they send here, I know is going to be nowhere near like her, but I hope they’re somewhat close”.

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