HONESDALE—A new pilot program offers affordable housing options for those willing to bunk together in a shared living space.

Dubbed the Shared Housing and Resource Exchange (SHARE) program, it gives homeowners the chance to receive help with expenses from responsible tenants while giving home seekers a private room and shared common spaces for reasonable compensation, explained Wayne and Pike County SHARE Housing Counselor Larisa Yusko at a recent meeting of the Wayne County Board of Commissioners.

“Every arrangement is unique depending on the needs, preferences and abilities of the participants involved,” said Yusko.

The counselor explained the program is open to any individual over 18 years of age.

Because the program is run through the Department of Aging, at least one individual in the arrangement must be over 60 years old, Yusko added.

“The theory behind this program is that we wanna keep people in their homes longer...,” she said.

Since the beginning of August this year, the program has received 50 applicants looking to be paired up, stated Yusko.

Also present was Monroe County SHARE Housing Counselor Ryan Lohman.

Lohman explained the counselors collect individual applications for renters and homeowners from which they extrapolate potential matches based upon common interests, goals and available resource exchange.

The potential roommates are then given the opportunity to meet their match and undergo a trial living period – lasting a few days to a week or so – to test the arrangement before committing to a full lease.

Lohman explained they shoot for tenancy agreements of at least a year in length.

“This isn't necessarily a rapid-rehousing program,” said Lohman, “People are looking for long-term arrangements. Moving is stressful.”

At most, renters are only required to pay 30 percent of their monthly income, said Lohman.

In addition to monetary compensation, the renter may also offer exchange of services and other resources as payment for sharing the living space, she added.

Jumping in, Yusko stated, “There are plenty of homeowners who aren't looking for rent, they just want services … so this is a wonderful program for people that are looking for low-income housing.”

To keep all parties in the arrangement safe, references and background checks are conducted as part of the application process.

According to Monroe, Wayne and Pike county Aging and Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC) Lead Link Coordinator Juliann Doyle, SHARE was formulated through receipt of a senior center block grant during last fiscal year.

The program has been in development for over two years, she said.

“We were quite excited when we were finally awarded the contract for the pilot,” said Doyle.

Commending the project, Commissioner Brian Smith stated, “I think it sounds like a program that should be beneficial to quite a few people on both sides of the fence.”

Commissioner Wendell Kay called the program “an innovative solution to a problem that actually does exist.”

According to SHARE program literature, those eligible are “older adults, persons with disabilities, veterans, working professionals, college students, individuals at-risk of homelessness, single parents, or people simply wishing to share their lives and homes with others.”

The housing counselors stated that renters can apply from outside the Wayne, Monroe and Pike areas, however homeowner applications to the program must come from within the three counties.

For more information, contact Ryan Lohman at 570-832-0538 or Larisa Yusko at 570-832-5133.