Home Sharing Between Elderly and University Students

Why did we select this case?

Senior citizens often suffer from social isolation, which studies demonstrate adversely impacts both their mental and physical health. Meanwhile, students are increasingly finding that accommodations near college campuses are substandard or unaffordable. Seoul introduced a win-win policy that solves the elderly welfare and youth housing problem through the sharing economy through a home sharing system between elderly and college students. Similar projects have been started in other cities as well. These cases show how sharing practices can increase social cohesion in cities.

About the Case

The project is called the Same Roof Generation Sympathy. This home sharing of different generations, has various goals such as resolving the loneliness of the elderly, securing rental income, and stabilizing housing for young people. The following images (derived from ShareHub) illustrate how it works.

Similar intergenerational-living programs have been introduced in other cities as well, including in Deventer, the Netherlands, Lyon, France and Cleveland, Ohio. The Humanitas Retirement Village, in Deventer is a long-term care facility, which offers free accommodation to students in exchange for 30 hours of their time per month to help the older residents. Currently, six students are residents in the village. This arrangement provides a mutual benefit: rent-free accommodation for students and a younger demographic to help support the care of, and foster interactions with, older residents. As part of their volunteer agreement, students teach residents various skills – such as using email and social media – and provide companionship. While these exchanges are important, it is living in such proximity that helps relationships and connections develop, eases loneliness, and makes a positive contribution to the mental health of the seniors.


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