House-sharing: Exploring the Potential for the City of St. John’s

The Canadian Observatory on Homelessness (COH) and End Homelessness St. John’s partnered to explore the feasibility of implementing a house-sharing project for low-income individuals in the City of St. John’s. This research was in response to the shift in housing needs, where the current housing stock is not matching the needs of rental applicants.

The research explored house-sharing as an alternative housing model in the contexts of (1) a community agency partnership(s) with social housing providers; (2) a community agency with their own housing stock; and (3) a community agency in partnership with the private rental market. This qualitative study collected data through an extensive literature review, model scan, data review, in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with housing stakeholders and service providers in the homeless serving sector. Based on this methodology, we identified the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to implementing house-sharing in the City of St. John’s.

Our findings revealed that there are great potentials and opportunities for implementing a successful house sharing project in the City of St. John’s. Additionally, we found that robust partnership between and among housing stakeholders and service providers is vital for successful implementation. We also found that there are notable issues associated with house-sharing that must be adequately addressed in any house-sharing framework including policy and legislation, conflict management, safety and security, funding availability, etc.

Based on these findings, we developed three house-sharing models for implementation in St. John’s, grounded in a framework that included considerations for infrastructure, client intake and selection; screening and matching; agreements between parties; rent collection; support services and continuous client follow-up; and an exit and replacement plan.

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