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Good morning.

Let’s enjoy a cup of coffee together while we discuss a brand new concept on a new idea for housing in Napa County, which, as you know, has become a huge problem. For instance, to give you an idea of county rents, in the third quarter of 2015 the average rents reached $925 for a studio apartment, and $1,703 for a one-bedroom unit, according to the Real Facts real estate information service. Those figures were up 8.8 percent and 16.4 percent from the same quarter in 2014.

Recently Napa Valley Community Housing’s executive director, Kathleen Dreessen, announced the opening of the Home Sharing Match-Up Program, which aims to help residents safely rent surplus rooms to those unable to lease a house or apartment. The service, a partnership between Napa and the housing nonprofit, gained city approval last September.

Before we move on to how this new program works, let me introduce you to Blanca Cervantes, the Home Sharing coordinator (blanca@nvch.org), and Marlene Santiago, director of resident services (marlene@nvch.org; 253-6157), who will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

By the way, Spanish is spoken here.

Blanca and Marlene will facilitate safe home-shares between homeowners with extra space in their home and renters who need an affordable place to live in Napa County,

Here’s how it works, as I understand it:

Blanca and Marlene match home providers, who have an extra room in their Napa home, with renters seeking an affordable place to live in Napa County.

Since we talk about senior issues here every week, let’s take this from the point of view of a senior, living alone in a home with an extra room.

There would be the sense of security and the added benefit of living in your own home for as long as you can, with the aid of basic assistance. The added income would ease any financial burden. One of the best parts would be the companionship and the potential for building a lasting friendship.

Of course for the renter, it would mean affordable rent to allow her/him to live in the area in which they work.

To reach the desired outcome between the homeowner and the renter, there is a list of requirements: (a) the completion of an application and an intake questionnaire; (b) the completion and signing of a release of liability form; (c ) the willingness to have a criminal background and credit check; (e) providing three valid personal references; (f) having the ability to pay rent; and (g) in rare cases, be willing and able to provide basic assistance.

Often, there is a reduction of rent for the home seeker in exchange for a service like cooking, cleaning, shopping or maintenance.

The review would also screen out any tourists seeking short-term vacation rentals in residential neighborhoods, which are banned in Napa without a permit.

After a thorough assessment process, applicants are matched, based on compatibility, and introduced.

When two applicants agree to become home-sharers, the housing coordinator helps them work out the terms of their home-sharing arrangement and offers ongoing assistance. Of course, they must be 18 years of age or older.

After a match is made, Blanca and Marlene will help mediate through any difficult issues at no cost.

It is Marlene’s estimate that most home-sharing leases would run from $650 to $800 per month.

If you live in a mobile home, you would qualify for this program with the approval of your property manager

As far as who provides the lease agreement and sets the rent rate, the homeowner prepares the lease and determines the rent they want to charge.

The limitations, of course, would be giving up some of your privacy or personal space. A home-seeker might have to give up some personal belongings or a pet if there is limited space.

I believe this program could have great merit, don’t you?

Be sure to give Blanca and Marlene a call for information or to set up an appointment.

Any new ideas on items of interest to seniors is what Senior Corner is all about, so if you have any thoughts on the subject, let’s hear from you. In the meantime be happy and share your happiness with others.

I look forward to our next visit.

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Contact Betty at bettyrrhodes@sbcglobal.net.

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