Affordable housing and housing shortages are hot topics these days, especially as Utah's population continues to grow. New housing projects are popping up throughout the city as developers rush to tap into this growth. But many of these projects are not affordable, rent in general is not affordable. Last year alone rent jumped 6%. So, what is the solution? One solution might be your empty bedroom ...
In an interesting article, The Seattle Times looked at how many bedrooms were empty in King County, WA - A LOT. Many of these empty rooms were in the homes of Baby Boomers - Empty Nesters. These empty rooms are an untapped resource and filling them will do a couple of things:
1. Provide another option for affordable housing.
2. Provide additional income for the homeowner.
3. In the case of the baby boomer, could provide companionship.
We are already sharing our car (Lyft and Uber) or our home for short periods of time (Airbnb), why not share the empty bedroom in our house to a long-term renter. It's a win-win situation.
Baby boomers are aging alone more than any generation in U.S. history. The lack of social contact among older adults costs Medicare billions a year on nursing homes and hospitalization for those who have less of a social network.
Greater social connectedness was associated with a 50% lower risk of early death. Lack of connection was associated with an increase risk of depression, cognitive decline and dementia. Loneliness is a looming public heath threat.
The Wall Street Journal article, "The Loneliest Generation", looks at this problem facing our seniors.
At Keen we want to address this lack of connection these Americans are experiencing. We want to bring together the person who might be living alone, who has an extra room, with someone who needs a place to stay, who can provide some companionship or willingness to help around the house.
Reciprocal living - connecting and helping each other.
Does empathy and shared living only extend to family? Or is it possible to consider living with someone outside your bloodline?
Will you help me understand a living arrangement I am struggling to help? My background is in the multifamily industry; for 14 years I have sold apartment buildings, and even managed them. During that time I have come to see that it's an industry entirely driven by getting the last dollar from each and every renter. It's really quite a cut throat business that has the potential to hurt the most economically vulnerable.
In an effort to challenge the current rent model I'm trying to create an elevated model built on the idea of reciprocity and empathy. If we can be taught to think of our cars as taxis, our homes as hotels, and trust finding babysitters on the internet, then we can certainly entertain the idea of helping elevate the life of another in a shared living arrangement.
Am I wrong? Am I naive? What am I missing? Would I do it? I really think I would. Would you?