With so many empty rooms in Vancouver, why isn’t there more home sharing? (Michael Geller, Vancouver Courier)

woman in red shirt beside woman in white shirt

Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

We’d like to draw some attention to this opinion piece in the Vancouver Courier by veteran architect Michael Geller last week. Below are some excerpts. Please visit the Courier for the full text.

There could be huge benefits with sharing  – economic, environmental, and social. In a tight housing market, those rooms already exist. The lead time is basically zero. This whole idea is worth further discussion! Mr. Geller is looking for input and experiences. See his contact info at bottom.

… the number of spare bedrooms in Vancouver is equivalent to 15 years of construction at the current rate of building

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OPINION: With so many empty rooms in Vancouver, why isn’t there more home sharing?

https://www.vancourier.com/opinion/opinion-with-so-many-empty-rooms-in-vancouver-why-isn-t-there-more-home-sharing-1.24056568

Photo caption: Given the number of empty bedrooms and people seeking accommodations, home sharing seems like a practical idea whose time should come, says Michael Geller.

Last week I received a phone call from Stephanie, a Montreal flight attendant for Air Canada Express who’s relocating to Vancouver in March. She has been searching on Craigslist for accommodations close to the Canada Line so she can easily get to the airport. However, like many Vancouverites, she has found home-hunting a very challenging and distressing experience.

One of the most disturbing things is the number of scammers and swindlers out there attempting to trap unsuspecting people desperately seeking rental accommodations. This was addressed in a Courier story last fall by John Kurucz and numerous other online articles.

A Vancity blogpost reported that an estimated 51 per cent of renters in Vancouver and Victoria have encountered a scam.

… According to Paul Smetanin of the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis (CANCEA), the number of spare bedrooms in Vancouver is equivalent to 15 years of construction at the current rate of building.

The challenge is to match those owning empty bedrooms or basement suites, and willing to share, with those seeking affordable accommodation.

Think of it as a VRBO or Airbnb but offering more permanent housing.

While organizations and private companies have sprung up in the United States to meet this demand, including Boston’s Nesterly, founded by a young lady from Cortes Island, only limited options are available in Vancouver.

Last August, CBC’s Early Edition broadcast a five-part radio series produced by Amanda Poole titled Roomies, which looked at various aspects of home sharing, including multi-generational sharing. It examined both the economic and emotional benefits that can arise, along with the challenges.

The series featured on-the-ground examples of shared living, as well as one matchmaker service called Happipad. It was started in the Okanagan in 2017 by a UBC student looking to match those with empty bedrooms and student renters, and describes itself as a cross between Airbnb and a dating site.

Happipad now serves all of B.C. through its home-sharing web app. It currently has more than 30 live listings in Vancouver, and more are popping up every week. Happipad connects anyone with a spare room with those looking for affordable accommodation options. It is not limited to intergenerational connections between seniors and students, although these connections do happen….

… I would also like to hear about other home sharing experiences, since given the number of empty bedrooms and people seeking accommodations, home sharing seems like a practical idea whose time should come.

@michaelgeller

geller@sfu.ca

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