REGION — A San Diego County senior housing pilot program that will help residents 55 and older find a spare bedroom in a private home is expected to begin early this summer.
The county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved the two-year program that matches lower-income older adults with locals who have a spare room.
Supervisor Joel Anderson, who first proposed the shared-housing program, thanked county staff “for working diligently to get this program implemented so that we can help at least 50 seniors find better living situations as soon as possible.”
“I look forward to next year’s evaluation of the pilot program and, if successful, hope to work towards funding to expand the program,” Anderson said in a statement.
According to Anderson’s office, there will be more than 1 million older residents living in the county by 2030.
He added that the 2023 Point-In-Time homeless count revealed that the number of residents 55 and older who are homeless increased 29% from the previous year.
Anderson said it’s crucial to expand housing solutions “and homeless prevention efforts for our vulnerable seniors living on fixed incomes.”
County officials said the program will assess the needs and goals of home-seekers and providers to coordinate appropriate matches. The program is also designed to create long-term housing solutions by offering tailored housemate agreements, mediation services and regular check-ins with housemates.
A contracted provider will administer the program, with the goal of creating 50 housing matches, or approximately 25 matches per year.
David Estrella, director of the county’s Housing and Community Development Services, said the program “is a way to catch a senior before they fall through the cracks in this challenging housing market.”
According to the county, residents earning no more than 120% of the area-median income would be eligible and pay no more than 30% of total monthly income towards rent.
Officials said that in certain cases, an exchange – in which the person provides a service, such as cleaning – to pay a lower amount of rent may be allowed.
A qualifying home must be located in the county and also in good standing with taxes and rent, mortgage and utility payments, officials added. According to the county, there will be an evaluation of the pilot program, which will cost roughly $311,000.
To make the pilot program a reality, HCDS looked at 16 different shared housing models within and outside the state, officials said.
County department staffers also reviewed the “Shared Housing in San Diego” report released in December 2020 by the Regional Task Force on Homelessness, which helped in the program’s design.
More information on the program will be made available at https://www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/sdc/sdhcd.html.