Seniors share homes for income and company

Mon Feb 7, 2011 4:20pm EST
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By Jon Hurdle

(Reuters) - Joyce Kane lives with two women who pay rent, don't smoke and like her cats.

Kane, a 64-year-old divorcee, has been sharing her central New Jersey home with strangers for 10 years and depends on them for both income and company.

She is one of a growing number of seniors across the United States who live with paying guests in their homes and find that the lodgers are not only an economic lifeline but also an emotional anchor.

"In order to stay in my home after a divorce I needed additional income," said Kane, who has had seven sharers and describes it as a wonderful experience, and one she recommends to others.

"I've had some great relationships with the homesharers," she added.

In New Jersey, such partnerships are brokered by Homesharing, Inc., a nonprofit group that links homeowners -- often but not always seniors -- with people who can't afford to buy or rent their own homes and are willing to take a room or two in someone else's house.

The service is free, although the group accepts donations from participants. Both the homeowners and the people seeking a home are thoroughly screened and everyone is interviewed.

"Our rate (of success) is better than first-time marriages," said Renee Drell, executive director of Homesharing, Inc, one of many similar organizations across the United States.   Continued...

<p>Germaine Levesque (L) lays a plate on her kitchen table in Canada while her husband, Edmond Levesque (R) eats his soup across the international border in the United States of America on the other side of the table, in the town of Estcourt, Maine on March 27, 2006. REUTERS/STR New</p>