July 2011 home page

  Housing Win-Win
Nancy Fisher | 24th Street


Adam Gardner and Carol Mason.
Photo Nancy Fisher

Need some extra income, companionship, or a little help around the house? Since 2004, Del Mar’s Shared Housing Program has been matching senior residents with home seekers, some of whom are willing to offer help with household chores in exchange for a place to live or for reduced rent.

Operating under Del Mar Community Connections, the program offers three possible housing arrangements: Shared Living, Service Exchange and Even Exchange. In the first arrangement, Shared Living, the home seeker pays to rent a private bedroom and shares use of some common spaces such as the bathroom, kitchen, and laundry. In the second and most typical arrangement, Service Exchange, the home seeker provides services such as cooking, cleaning, and driving in exchange for reduced rent. And in the third, Even Exchange, the home seeker will provide the owner with up to 20 hours of service per week in exchange for room and board.

Shirley King, past president of the board of DMCC, estimates that the program makes roughly 5-8 matches per year. “Many,” she says, “turn into both long-standing housing arrangements and enduring friendships.”

A current success story for the program is the pairing of Carol Mason, a retired Del Mar elementary school teacher, with Adam Gardner, a recent college graduate with degrees in Human Biology and Chemistry, who just landed his dream job at Scripps Research Institute. Carol has a long history of sharing her peaceful, Herb Turner-designed hillside home with housemates of all ages and backgrounds, and enjoys having “someone cheerful around the house who says hello and goodbye in the morning.”

Adam, who decided to move from Minnesota to the San Diego area before securing a job in his field, had expectations of “living in a dump and working in a fast-food joint.” “Instead,” he beams, “I ended up here, and with the coolest job I can imagine.”
In return for reduced rent on his bedroom and private bath, Adam waters the yard, takes out the trash, helps Carol with her computer, and fixes anything that might break in a 42-year-old house. Carol loves to hear reports of Adam’s day at work and shares his excitement about the new job. “It’s easy for people living alone to get set in their ways,” she says, “and having Adam here keeps me from falling into a routine.”

For more information, contact Heather Glenn at 858-792-7565 or email her at dmcc@dmcc.cc.


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