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Local homesharing organization offers solutions to high housing costs, social isolation

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Homesharing Hawaiʻi
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Martha Ross, left, of Homesharing Hawaiʻi at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall on Sept. 16, 2022.

Homesharing Hawaiʻi is hoping to help solve the housing crunch and build community, one home at a time. The nonprofit matches individuals seeking a home with people who have a home to share.

It believes homesharing is a way not only to address the high cost of housing, but also the health hazards of social isolation. The organization, which is part of the Hawaiʻi Intergenerational Network, says homeowners who live alone — frequently seniors — are more vulnerable to sickness, suicide, and Alzheimer’s disease.

According to an AARP study, loneliness is the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes a day and the impact of isolation adds $7 billion a year to the cost of Medicare.

Honolulu is one of the most expensive places to rent a home in the U.S. and over 20% of the state’s population is age 60 or older, according to a University of Hawaiʻi study. That means the state is well poised to take advantage of this type of program.

Homesharing Hawaiʻi project director Martha Ross sat down with The Conversation to explain how homeowners can connect with home seekers. Homesharing is something

Caroline Kunitake did after finishing college and moving to a new town. She also joined The Conversation to reflect on her experience as a young person and what she now thinks about the idea of “home.”

Ross invites homeowners or renters who have permission from their landlord to consider homesharing as a way to experience the full benefits of home.

This interview aired on The Conversation on Dec. 23, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Stephanie Han is a producer for The Conversation. Contact her at shan@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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