MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. (KION) Doris Beckman has lived in her home for 23 years.
“I feel like I’ve almost grown up in this area," Beckman said. "I’ve been here for so long. And as soon as I walked into this house I fell in love.”
In that time, her younger son and her husband shared the space with her. But her son has since moved out and her husband passed. So she's been living on her own for almost six years.
“At first it was okay, and then it just—the house just feels so different with nobody in it,” Beckman said.
Beckman said she liked the comfort of coming home to a lit house with her husband asking how her day was.
“There’s just a whole different feeling when all of a sudden you’re walking in and it’s just you," Beckman said. "So, yeah, I don’t like it anymore.”
So, in order to fill the empty space in her house, she started working with Home Match. It's a nonprofit that connects homeowners who have empty rooms with tenants looking for affordable housing.
“My thought was more like ‘The Golden Girls,'" Beckman said. "I always wanted to set up, like, a little community. And the home share that I have now, it’s—it’s really working out towards that.”
Beckman is a part of Home Match's pilot program. The organization is primarily active in the Bay Area right now and it's brought people together in 196 matches. Now, the organization is trying to move down to Monterey County.
“We’re hoping to launch the Home Match program here in Monterey County sometime between April and maybe June and July of this year," Home Match's San Francisco director, Karen Coppock said. "It’s pending funding, so we do have a variety of proposals out. We’re looking for support.”
By support, Coppock is referring to financial support from various city councils throughout the county.
“So we’re really just trying to get the word out about our program to both help with the funding as well as help with community engagement and getting more awareness of it,” Coppock said.
So far, they have about 20 homeowners and some tenants who are willing to use the program if and when it comes to the area.
“Our typical homeowner is a 73-year-old female that lives alone," Coppock said. "But, on the roommate side, we’ve placed people from 18 to 94."
Beckman said a huge part of what made her match work with a younger tenant, Betty Withrow, was the effort that Home Match put in to make sure they were compatible.
“Just that sense of security of having the background check and really
getting into the weeds of what it would be like living together," Beckman said.
“We see each other, obviously, every day," Withrow said. "Sometimes we sit down and have a good old-fashioned round-the-table talk, and sometimes we don’t.”
While Home Match does not get involved in the finances, it does provide contracts--just like this one--for the homeowner and the tenant to sign.
“Everybody knows what the parameters are," Withrow said. "What the agreements are. There’s nothing vague about it.”
In Beckman's case, she has a base rate, and when Withrow does work around the house, she'll lower the cost for that month.
“It’s a testament to, one, how interested people are, like Doris, to remain in their homes," Coppock said. "But also how the affordable housing crisis is impacting both homeowners as well as people seeking housing.”
It remains to be seen whether Home Match will get the funding it needs in the coming months.
Home Match is owned by a nonprofit called Covia. That company already runs a senior living facility in Pacific Grove, but now it's expanding its Home Match program to try and provide housing services of a different type.