A pilot home share program is generating lots of interest as high rent prices force people out of Woodstock. “There were more people than we expected to come, which was fantastic,” said Deputy Town Supervisor and Councilwoman-elect Maria-Elena Conte, who started the program along with Susan Goldman and Family of Woodstock.
The program matches aging residents who need help and have a room or a detached apartment with those who need an affordable place to live. Guests live on the property for reduced rent in exchange for helping with tasks such as yard work, repairs, shopping or even companionship.
“We just want to make sure that people are aware that there’s a lot that goes into this, and that is not just like, hey, you need a place to live, and you’ve got a room in your house. Why don’t you just live together? It’s a much more thoughtful process,” Conte said.
Family of Woodstock will interview and run background checks on both property owners and renters.
At a December 8 information session, many took applications to either be a host or a guest.
“Obviously there are going to be more guests than hosts, but our line of thinking is that the more we educate Woodstock residents, the more they’ll become comfortable with the concept of this,” Conte said.
Conte began researching home share programs in 2019 and got the green light from Supervisor Bill McKenna. “I was learning about a European model and learning about when home sharing first came to this country in the 1970s and how successful it was. One of the most successful programs that I learned about was a program in Vermont called HomeShare Vermont,” she said.
“And I got very excited about that and got in touch with their executive director. I was about to drive up there so I could check out the program, learn about the matches that they were making and how people were living,” said Conte. “And so I was all excited about that and then the pandemic hit.”
Conte then switched gears and started Senior Outreach Services to make sure the aging residents had hot meals, groceries and prescriptions delivered and were doing all right.
“Then once things started to calm down with the pandemic, that’s when I started to go back to my research for the home share program.”As she was doing that, she learned that the Housing Committee was also considering home sharing. “So I connected with them again and said, hey, you know what, let’s team up.”
Conte and Goldman teamed up with New York Office for the Aging Director Greg Olsen, whose office pledged some money to kick off the pilot program. She soon got Ulster County Office for the Aging Director Susan Koppenhaver and others on board.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call/text 845-679-2485.