Lacey’s General Government & Public Safety Committee held a meeting on Tuesday, January 24, to discuss updates to the Home Share pilot program.
“A home share is a living arrangement in which home providers offer accommodation to home seekers in exchange for an agreed-upon level of support. Now that support can occur in a combination of different forms,” Program Manager of Senior Services for South Sound Rebecca Hutchinson explained.
Assistant City Manager Shannon Kelley-Fong furthered, “The city is involved in a lot of ways to reduce homelessness, and one of these [is] to add affordable housing to the city. One of the avenues that the city is currently pursuing is the home share program.”
For example, Hutchinson explained, one provider may just need some financial assistance in maintaining their home, so they may rent out a private room and private bath to a home seeker for $700 a month.
Using the same scenario, that provider may also opt to rent out that room and bathroom for $400 a month if she prefers a home seeker to help with grocery shopping once a week.
“Those terms are really set by the provider and then agreed upon by the seeker,” Hutchinson added.
Hutchinson also said that home share is ‘essentially a matchmaking service’ relying on personal interviewing to determine compatibility, in this case, from a homeowner and home seeker.
“This is really the heart of the program. We work very hard to make sure that the matches that we make are indeed compatible. We want to make sure that every match that we make has some longevity,” Hutchinson said.
With only ten months in service, the home share program claimed it almost hit its target of having at least one match each month.
“We have increased our application conversion rate. That is– out of all of our inquiries, which of those turned into actual applications into our program.” Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson added that the provider conversion rate is 36.8% and their seeker conversion rate is 33%.
“We currently have 26 active seekers waiting to be matched and five active providers waiting to be matched, with three in process. We've made a total of 33 connections between seekers and providers, and we've made a total of eight matches altogether,” Hutchinson reported.
The current average processing time of applications is 23 business hours, which is roughly three business days.
“The process of home share applications are available digitally or for printing on our webpage. We also can give hard copies of applications to clients that are in Lacey or Olympia senior centers,” Hutchinson said.
After a provider and seeker, each pay the $35 application fee, the process will begin, composed of several background checks and interviews.
“What that looks like is that we run a Washington State background check [or] a more broad national background check,” Hutchinson said.
“We also check the National Sex Offender Registry, and we do require three personal references. Once that is all complete, then we call the client to schedule an entrance interview,” Hutchinson added.
These entrance interviews are about the provider or seeker’s personality, lifestyle, what they need functionally in a home, preferences, and activities of daily living routine.
When a provider and seeker is a potential match based on the checks and interviews, Hutchinson calls them and reviews that potential match with both of them.
“If it sounds interesting, we exchange contact information. And at that point, it's really up to the provider and seeker,” Hutchinson said.
The pair are recommended to meet at least three times to get to know each other and answer compatibility conversation guides and worksheets.
If the match is favorable for both parties, they will proceed to sign the Living Together Agreement (LTA), which is similar to a lease but has details about the service exchanges.
“I follow up with matched pairs at 30, 90, and 120 days. And if at those times they bring up any conflicts that may be going on, I certainly can schedule a time to come out to the home and provide mediation services,” Hutchinson said.
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