Older residents encouraged to ‘open up heart and home’ in cheap housing for chores scheme

The scheme sees typically older or less-able residents open up a spare room in their home to a ‘housesharer’ in exchange for help with household chores

Credit: Two Generations CIC/Waltham Forest Council

The council is encouraging older or less-abled Waltham Forest residents to open up their homes to young people in need of cheap accommodation.

The call is part of a scheme, launched earlier this year in partnership with non-profit Two Generations CIC, that sees typically older people who live alone and have a spare room, matched with “homesharers” who can “provide an overnight presence, companionship and some help with household chores”.

“Homesharers” are not legally tenants and don’t pay rent but they pay Two Generations a monthly fee of £300. They may also be asked to contribute to household bills. The housesharer must complete at least 40 hours of household chores per month.

Speaking previously to the Echo, the scheme’s co-founder Natasha Langleben said: “Lots of people can really benefit from homesharing, particularly in an early intervention way. It can provide help around the house for someone before their health deteriorates to the point where they need to move into a care home.

“Some people are quite hesitant at first – naturally bringing someone into their home is a big deal – but, once they get to know the person, all of a sudden they really want them to move in and want to speed the process up. 

“We have arranged somewhere between 50 to 70 homeshares so far. Most last a year or 18 months but our longest was three years.

“But they are long-lasting relationships. We have two ladies who are both on their third sharer but their first two sharers are still friends who come to visit.”

The scheme has not gone without criticism, however. Writing for the April 2023 issue of the Echo, Rebecca Hesse-Clark, from the London Renters’ Union, said the scheme was turning “solidarity and friendship into a business model” and offering the “worst of both worlds” by “avoiding the scrutiny of a formal care provider while still charging a fee.”

She wrote: “Homesharers have no rental agreement, robbing them of the few legal protections afforded to normal renters.”

Find out more and apply to be either a homesharer or lodger here