One University’s Inter-Generational Housing Program Is Helping Students Find Affordable Homes While Providing Seniors With Much Needed Companionship
McMaster University in Ontario, Canada has spearheaded a creative way to provide affordable housing to its student population at the same time, finding companionship to senior citizens who have extra rooms to spare.
The university, founded in the late 1800’s is one of only a handful of Canadian Schools that consistently rank among the world’s top 100 universities, making it a popular destination for foreign students from at least 107 countries looking to pursue further education away from home.
With a full time student census of close to 30,000, housing is one of the necessities that the university aims to address and thanks to one of its faculty members, McMaster University may have already come up with a witty solution for those who choose to join the program.
Soumeya Abed, a research scientist from the university’s Department of Medicine, came up with the name SYMBIOSIS for the housing program that she started since it was based on a “mutually beneficial relationship” for both the student-tenant and the senior-landlord. Her personal experience as a foreign student in France, a country known for expensive rental rates, has inspired her to create a program that mimicked her cohabitation experience with 2 older ladies in Paris.
The program aims to pair students who are in need of cheaper housing with senior citizens who have extra rooms to spare. The students benefit from this relationship by saving on their finances because of the lower rental rate while the landlords get companionship and help with simple house chores from their tenants.
Surprisingly, according to students who are already in the program, aside from the financial benefit they get from the arrangement, beautiful relationships are fostered with their older housemates with some even considering being good friends with their shelter-mates.
Abed hopes to sustain the program further in the future praying that with a little funding, the tedious and challenging task of screening and matching people together to maximize the benefits it brings to both parties.
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