A new approach to city’s housing crisis
March 6th, 2017
By Christina Gray
Joyce Calagos had two reasons for seeking a housemate last year to share the three-bedroom home she had lived in with her parents before they died. One was practical, the other spiritual.
“I needed some extra income,” said Galagos, a parishioner at Church of the Epiphany in San Francisco. As pressing, she said, was her desire to “live the Gospel” by sharing her home with someone who needed an affordable room in a city where the average one-bedroom apartment rents for about $3,500.
Providentially, Calagos heard about HomeMatch, a nonprofit launched last year that matches homeowners who have rentable rooms with compatible, thoroughly screened renters who earn less than 90 percent of Area median income. According to HomeMatch, that is $67,850 for one person.
After an application and interview with the program staff who also visited her home, Calagos met her match: a newly separated single Catholic mother who pays a reasonable $775 for a private room and bath and shares all common areas of the home.
“We just clicked,” said Calagos of her first meeting with her prospective boarder at HomeMatch offices on Turk Street. Staff supervised that encounter and once the parties “chose each other,” helped them draft a housing agreement detailing mutual expectations and household rules. Her new roommate moved in Dec. 1.
At a Christmas tea hosted by HomeMatch for clients, Calagos arrived with her housemate and her housemate’s teenage daughter, a student at St. Ignatius College Preparatory who lives in another location.
“Joyce didn’t just get a lodger,” HomeMatch director Amie Spencer said. “In many ways she gained a second family.”
HomeMatch is a joint program of Northern California Presbyterian Homes & Services and Episcopal Senior Communities and is partially funded by the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development. It was conceived by San Francisco Supervisor Katy Tang, who sought to ease the housing shortage for students, teachers, nonprofit staff, health care workers and other low- and moderate-income renters.
With deposits and associated costs, moving can cost up a person up to $10,000. “For a person who makes 40-60k a year, that’s nearly impossible,” said Tina Cheung, program manager of HomeMatch.
Because of the housing crisis, schools and universities, churches, hospitals and nonprofits are among the employers in the city having trouble recruiting qualified job applicants, Cheung said.
So far, Cheung has established relationships with 10 San Francisco churches including St. Gabriel, St. Anne of the Sunset and Holy Name of Jesus parishes. St. Ignatius College Preparatory High School and the University of San Francisco are also promoting HomeMatch.
“The high cost of housing in San Francisco affects who can attend our school, it affects our staff and also our parishioners,” St. Anne pastor Father Daniel Nascimento said. “HomeMatch is a great concept and we hope it works.” St. Anne includes an ad for HomeMatch in the parish bulletin.
The program also has a special interest in helping homeowners find compatible housemates who can provide additional income. Spencer said HomeMatch is an especially good option for aging homeowners who wish to remain in their homes but need help with certain household chores or errands and may be able to offer a rent reduction in exchange.
“We are able to ask questions and get to know people applying to the program in a way that they may not be comfortable or able to do,” she said.
Visit homematchsf.org or call (415) 351-1000.
From March 9, 2017 issue of Catholic San Francisco.