New Orleans, Louisiana
Our main focus is the greater New Orleans metro area. This includes Orleans and Jefferson Parishes. Many elderly homeowners, though mentally healthy, often suffer physical disabilities which prevent them from being able to live totally alone in their homes. They have special needs related to assistance with errands, shopping, diet, and cooking. Also they often have too little income to hire someone as a companion. The homeowners usually have minimal familial support. Medicare notes that the average cost to house an elderly/disabled person is approximately $25,000 annually. The Shared Housing alternative thus saves tax dollars- and no fees are charged to either participant. Furthermore, AARP reports that 30% of those in nursing homes could remain at home with some assistance. Also, Louisiana has one of the highest rates of institutionalizing the elderly- for those over 85 it is the highest in the country. By allowing elderly/disabled individuals to stay in their own homes, connection to neighborhoods and civic life is fostered. An example of a homeowner applying to our program is a woman whose home has finally been rebuilt after Katrina, but she is afraid to live alone in the sparsely-inhabited neighborhood. We are trying to match her with someone who can help her feel more secure in her home.
Shared Housing of New Orleans is a preventative program which aids the "homeseeker", the person who has experienced an emotional or financial loss of some magnitude and does not have a place to stay or, in some cases, the ability to pay next month's rent, and the "homeowner", often elderly or disabled, who may face imminent threat of unnecessary institutionalization. This is a program which promotes the mental health of elderly and/or disabled individuals who are often suffering situational depression caused by loss of a spouse, physical disability, and other problems which sometimes lead to suicidal ideation. After the creation of a homesharing match we find that depression is reduced in virtually all clients. Overall quality of life improves as well.
Registered nurses meet with all clients to assess their goals, needs, strengths and vulnerabilities. Homeseekers and homeowners are interviewed individually. Profiles are obtained, police checks and reference letters are secured and other supportive documentation is gathered. If all components are clear, homeseeker and homeowner who are judged as possibly compatible meet at the homeowner's residence for a "double" interview along with the registered nurse, who facilitates the interview. Should the homeseeker and homeowner agree, a weekend "stayover" is arranged between the two. If the stayover is successful, then the homeseeker moves in. Ongoing case management is provided by the nursing staff, who makes periodic site visits and refer back to physicians for needed health care. The safety, comfort and security of participants are paramount.
Here is a letter from a recently matched homeseeker:
I would like to take this opportunity to express my thanks for the Shared Housing program and to relate its impact in my life since I entered the program and became matched with my home- owner. At the time I entered the program I found myself suddenly and unexpectedly separated from my spouse. Housing was a great concern as I could not continue to live in the apartment my spouse and I had shared due to lack of financial resources among other things. I was already working a part-time job and had some time to spare, so I was both excited and relieved when I learned of the Shared Housing program through the ad on MeTV. It seemed like the perfect match for my needs and situation, and it has worked out exactly that way.
As I continue to work through this unexpected transition in my life, it has been as blessing to have such a nice place to live without any financial obligation attached to it. It has also been a blessing to be able to help my homeowner with her cooking, cleaning, and errand-running tasks which had become nearly unmanageable for her before we met and were matched. I truly do not know what I would have done had the Shared Housing program not been available at the time of my need. I feel that it was and is an answer to prayer. My homeowner has been gracious and understanding as I continue to work through the grief and other accompanying emotions of my marital separation and I feel fortunate to have landed in such a place at this time. This program has had a huge impact on my mental and physical well-being because through it I have a place to live and someone to talk with as I walk this journey of separation. I would not want to be without it and am grateful for it. I would highly recommend the program to anyone who found themselves in need.
The following are statements from the children of homeowners who have been successfully matched by Shared Housing of New Orleans.
From Erik Stilling:
The Shared Housing Program of New Orleans program has made an incredible difference in the lives of all my family members. We are so incredibly grateful and rather stunned at its simplicity and brilliance.
As is so often the case in today's America, a family's grown children follow work to far-flung cities and cannot be on-hand to help their aging parents with even simple day to day tasks. And while the family may own a home, today's typical families cannot afford live-in nurses. The shared housing program allows the elder homeowner to offer room and board for day to day help around the house as well as a little companionship as lagniappe.
And the two ladies get along great. We even enjoy Holiday meals with our newest family member, Miss Josie.
Thanks again for this great program. I have recommended it to several friends already.
From Edwin Moran:
Two years ago within one week, my mother found herself to be an unexpected widow and ill with a serious case of congestive heart failure. Despite her circumstances she wanted to stay in her home with her cats and be independent. As her only child I wanted to fulfill her wishes but I live in California and we have limited resources. It took a lot of telephone calls and effort but once I found Shared Housing of New Orleans and their nurse Mrs. Jean Sanchez, they became the safety net that allowed my mother to continue living in her home and remain independent. My mother could not continue on her own without the efforts of Shared Housing. I highly recommend the services provided by Shared Housing and appreciate the great work that Mrs. Sanchez does for her clients.
Take care and thank you,
Shared Housing of New Orleans keeps elderly and/or disabled homeowners from going to nursing homes that do not want to or need to be there. We match them with individuals who need a place to live. There is an even exchange of room and board by the homeowner for light housework and companionship by the homeseeker. Our mission is to prevent the unnecessary institutionalization of elderly and disabled homeowners.