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Unique program pairs Georgian College students with seniors to address affordable housing options

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Georgian College, in partnership with SpacesShared, broadened its efforts to offer cost-effective housing solutions in Barrie with a program that partners students with seniors who have an extra room to rent.

"This program is an incredible program because it both reduces social isolation, both with our seniors and with our students, and it adds to the capacity of housing students in an affordable way in our community," said Suzie Addison-Toor, vice president of student success at Georgian College.

Homeowner Karen Tiveron said she signed up for the program for various reasons, including having some extra help around the house.

"I do live alone with a disability, and there are times where I'm not physically capable of doing some things like it could be taking the bins down to the street for garbage day, it could be just doing a little bit of housework, raking the leaves. Right now, I find it to be a lot of work," she said.

Tiveron was paired with Parth Makwana, who moved from India in September last year and is studying culinary management.

"I started looking for places, and the college was promoting SpacesShared through its Instagram story, so I created my account and thought, let's try it out because it's what I wanted to do from the beginning. I just wanted to live with the people of Canada," said Makwana.

Tiveron and Makwana say things have been going well so far, living under the same roof, and both have been able to help each other in various ways.

"If I need to apply for my licence or anything, I just go up to Karen and ask her if she could guide me. She helped me with my job as well, she helped me with my resume, she found some really nice places in Barrie where I can apply for a job," said Makwana.

"There's also a benefit of just learning about someone else's culture. It's always good to hear first-hand someone else's lived experiences," Tiveron added.

Officials at Georgian College say they are looking for more homeowners to participate.

Complete information, including how to sign up for the program, is available here.

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