Unique affordable housing option benefits students, community

When Parth Makwana moved from India to study at Georgian College, he was hoping to move in with a Canadian family.

It didn’t seem possible to the Culinary Management student until he heard Georgian is working with SpacesShared, a technology platform connecting students who need a place to live with older adults living at home to create mutually beneficial sharing arrangements.

Parth signed up and matched with Barrie resident Karen Tiveron.

“If somebody from Canada came to India they would do the same thing and live with an Indian family so they could learn about the culture and have someone to guide them,” Parth says.

Two people and a cat sit on a couch inside a house.
Karen and Parth matched on SpacesShared.

With SpacesShared, older adults can safely offer a spare bedroom for extra income, enjoy the company of a housemate, and get help with chores around the house all while giving students much-needed safe and affordable housing options.

Benefits include guidance, help with chores

“A big benefit of our arrangement is getting guidance with things I don’t know about. For example, she helped me with my resume and suggested some nice places in Barrie where I could apply for a job.”

Before signing up for SpacesShared, Karen had lived alone for about 15 years.

“So far, it’s going really well,” she says. “I liked the idea of having a little extra help around the house because I live with a disability and there are times when I’m not physically capable of doing some things, like taking the bins down to the street for garbage day and raking the leaves.”

A person rakes leaves in a yard.
Parth helps with household chores as part of his arrangement with SpacesShared.

Learning about someone else’s culture has also been a benefit, Karen adds.

“In Canada, we like to think we have a diverse culture, but it’s always good to hear first-hand about someone else’s lived experiences. I would recommend SpacesShared to other people.”

Georgian leads the way with SpacesShared partnership

Georgian is the first postsecondary institution to launch on the SpacesShared platform, and it currently has eight matches living together and 19 listings available for matching.

The first phase of the partnership is focused on Barrie but there are plans to expand to other Georgian campus locations in the future. One of the current matches is with a Midland Campus student living with a homeowner in Springwater Township, just outside Barrie.

We want students to have a menu of options to choose from when they’re coming to the City of Barrie and they’re looking for places to live. The homeowners and students go through a screening process to ensure it’s a successful pairing. It’s a fantastic option both for homeowners who have spaces to let out, as well as for our students who want to live in community. The program also reduces social isolation for older adults and students, and it adds to the capacity of housing students in an affordable way.

– Suzie Addison-Toor, Vice President, Student Success, Georgian College
Three smiling people stand in a college campus lobby, with the Georgian College logo on the wall behind them
From left to right, Georgian’s Sarah Stackhouse, Housing and Outreach Coordinator, and Suzie Addison-Toor, Vice President, Student Success, alongside Rylan Kinnon, Chief Executive Officer, SpacesShared. 

SpacesShared support ‘a real big hook’ for Barrie resident

For Barrie resident Sue Petrie, what sold her on SpacesShared was knowing there’s a third party to help her in case of any tenant issues.

“That was a real big hook for me. They stay connected to you the whole the student is living with you. If you have an issue, they encourage you to get a hold of them. If it’s not working out, they’ll be there for you,” she says.

Two people stand next to each other on front steps in front of a house, with the front door open.
Sue Petrie and Sahil Sahni matched on SpacesShared.

But luckily for Sue, her match with Georgian student Sahil Sahni is working out very well.

“I love this guy. He’s so easy to be with. He’s friendly. I know anybody who comes in my house is going to be treated with the utmost respect,” Sue says.

Sahil, a Hospitality – Hotel and Resort Operations Management student, calls Sue his mentor.

“This place is a real home, it’s not a hostel. I respect it and help maintain it,” he says. “Sue teaches me everything. She motivated me to start my life here.”

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