The following article appeared in The Blue Mountains Review
Georgian Bay Home Share
A New Ministry at Grace United Church, Thornbury
Georgian Bay Home Share is a unique and innovative ministry and outreach project of Grace United. It addresses two social justice issues in the southern Georgian Bay area of which we have become increasingly aware in the past few years:
The unavailability of affordable housing for the low income wage earners and support for the homeless is inadequate.
Seniors living alone who want to age in place but find it difficult to maintain their homes.
In February of 2022, a small group of members began research into Home Share Canada and felt very excited that finally we could see a solution to the housing situation in our area. We were referred to Waterloo Region Home Share and enjoyed a very informative ZOOM meeting with them. We were pleased to accept their generous offer to assist us in the future and have since received many helpful documents from them.
Everyone Needs a Home
Through our research, we have learned that there is no other group in the area providing low rent alternatives to low wage earners. For example, graduates of Georgian College who can readily find work in the medical sector, cannot find a place to live. The rents in the area are so high many people cannot afford to pay them. In The Blue Mountains 38.7 percent of tenant households are spending 30 percent or more of their income on shelter costs. The average monthly shelter costs for rented dwellings is $1405.00. In Meaford, 35.9 percent of tenant households spend 30 percent or more on shelter costs. The average monthly shelter costs for rented dwellings is $986.00.
Aging in Place
Many seniors in this area are living alone in their homes. They are lonely and need companionship and are having difficulty maintaining their homes. They are isolated because of a lack of transportation. With inflation rates so high, some need to supplement their finances to cover the increase in household expenses. They would feel safer and more secure having someone living with them. Some must leave their homes unwillingly and go to a senior’s residence.
Home Share Concept
The Home Share concept is for home seekers and home providers to share living space within a home. The benefits of this arrangement are a mutual sharing of talents and abilities, culture, family and friends, interests and activities and the support and encouragement for each other. There is sharing of household work and expense with an exchange of services in lieu of some rent. This is a win/win situation for both as there is a reduced rent for the renter and human contact and connection for the home provider. This will result in a safety net and an increase in the health and welfare of both individuals.
Georgian Bay Home Share Mission
Georgian Bay Home Share will seek out home providers and home seekers who are interested in the home share concept. This will be accomplished through several in-depth interviews of both parties by a qualified team. Support and encouragement for the individuals will be provided for 6 months post match. By receiving reduced rent for providing agreed upon home duties, the renter will have accommodation that is affordable, safe and comfortable. The home provider will have assistance with home upkeep, enabling them to stay in their home. Both individuals will benefit from companionship, sharing of talents and interests.
Georgian Bay Home Share Values
Georgian Bay Home Share believes that everyone deserves a home that is safe, affordable and comfortable. Home Share is a new way of looking at housing in the area and we are excited to be initiating it.
We are committed to these values:
Inclusivity- Georgian Bay Home Share will provide a path for including people of all income levels, ethnicity and gender. By providing homes we will help to alleviate homelessness and poverty in the community.
Integrity – Georgian Bay Home Share will use a team approach in conducting participant interviews. All information provided will be confidential. Everyone comes from a different background and has a different story. All interactions will be respectful to everyone involved. We believe that the match between the home seeker and the home provider must be done with utmost care. The outcome must be a successful match where both participants are comfortable with their living situation.
Collaboration – Georgian Bay Home Share is just one solution to the housing crisis. We are committed to work with, learn from and support other organizations that are working in this area. We will be reaching out to local organizations for support and assistance to promote, and finance our project.
Suitability of Grace United To Launch This New Ministry
The Board and Congregation of Grace United are committed to supporting this ministry and will be an excellent source of volunteers as the initiative grows. The church will provide private and comfortable space to conduct interviews.