28 Sep Inter-generational Co-housing at McMaster University
Inter-generational Co-housing at McMaster University
Soumeya Abed is a research scientist in the Department of Medicine at McMaster University that started an intergenerational co-residence program called Symbiosis. She was motivated to start this program from her own personal experience. Abed was studying as an international student in Paris when she lived with two elderly women, it helped her to afford the cost of living in a place with some of the most expensive rents in the world.
In an interview with CBC’s Kas Roussy, Abed said the program “is based on a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship.”
“It connects students who are looking for affordable housing with seniors who have a spare room, a furnished room, and can offer a little bit of support and companionship,” she said.
Because of her experience, she is able to anticipate potential challenges and offer adequate solutions to others.
The program offers two different options for housing, a low-cost room or a free room in exchange for helping around the house.
Students and seniors alike can benefit from an arrangement like this, it creates a sense of community can also help International students develop conversational English skills.
Abed acknowledges that finding the right fit involves a lot of steps. For seniors, they need to detail what their expectations are and what their ideal student “roomie” would be like, prepare an adequate living space for the student, finalize the application and participate in regular follow-ups to ensure things are running smoothly.
She also works with the students to help them to understand the expectations of the person they will be living with, identify why they were motivated to participate in the program, find the best option that fits their needs, and participate in the regular follow-ups as well.
The pilot program started last year with 10 students placed with seniors after 40 applications were received. One student enjoyed it so much that she came back and lived with them again this year.