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Alternative housing program explored

Info session being held Monday on potential of home share program in St. Albert to address affordable housing shortage
2007 Grant reduc's DR13
Suzan Krecsy, executive director of the St. Albert Food Bank and Community Village, says the St. Albert Homeless Prevention Coalition is holding an information session Monday on home sharing. DAN RIEDLHUBER/St. Albert Gazette

Correction

An earlier version of this article incorrectly spelled Suzan Krecsy's last name.

First, you have an elderly person who has mobility challenges and cannot shovel the walk or take care of all their household duties.

Next, you have a student living on student loans who has had no luck finding an apartment within their budget.

Imagine if those two parties were connected and could kill two birds with one stone by entering into an alternative living arrangement together.

This concept is called home sharing, and on Monday the St. Albert Homeless Prevention Coalition will be testing the waters to see if there is appetite within the city to start up such a program.

“It benefits some folks who want to stay in their home and who maybe are single and maybe physically not able to do the work anymore,” said St. Albert Food Bank and Community Village executive director Suzan Krecsy. “A student could benefit from that by doing some little chores around the house and having a reduced rent.”

Home sharing is a simple concept that has unlimited combinations of living arrangements, not limited to the scenario outlined above, Krecsy said. It is not a new idea, and has been used in municipalities across North America as one solution to address complex housing affordability issues.

According to Krecsy, the shortage of appropriate housing (affordable, safe and barrier free) in St. Albert could be immediately addressed by home sharing while a long-term strategy is contemplated.

“When you're looking at increasing the volume of affordable housing, you're looking at bricks and mortar, sometimes,” she said. “And that's kind of a long way down the road, and this would be able to address it in a more timely fashion.”

She added home sharing could be more sustainable, compared to other programs that rely on grants.

There are also social benefits to home sharing that could address isolation and loneliness some seniors may experience living on their own.

Krecsy said she has already received numerous phone calls from St. Albert residents who say they are “very interested.”

“It's piqued some interest because it's different; it's a possible alternative to what we have right now,” she said.

St. Albert corporate communications manager Cory Sinclair said in an email the city, as a member of the coalition, is exploring the concept of home sharing as part of St. Albert’s commitment to enhancing housing options.

He said next steps to get a home share program off the ground would be to collect feedback from residents and then investigate potential implementation of a model that could work in St. Albert.

The free information session is being held Monday, Feb. 3, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at the St. Albert Public Library (5 St. Anne Street). Anyone with questions can can contact Dianne Gillespie at 780 459-1715 or [email protected]


Hannah Lawson

About the Author: Hannah Lawson

Hannah Lawson joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2019 after working as editor of the Athabasca Advocate. She writes about city hall.
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