March 13, 2018 9:47 pm
Updated: March 14, 2018 2:41 pm

Vancouver millennials need rentals. Seniors have rooms. There may be a solution here

WATCH: A new group is proposing a unique solution to Vancouver's growing housing crisis. They are building on a model used in several areas around the world that pairs “empty nesters” that may have empty rooms with young people looking for housing. Tanya Beja reports.

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Vancouver — it’s a city where hordes of young people are looking for places to rent, and where the vacancy rate isn’t far from zero.

The West Coast city is also a place where there are plenty of seniors with empty rooms after their children have left the nest.

The people behind Empty Nests think they may have found a solution for both problems.

Coverage of rentals on Globalnews.ca:

Empty Nests is an initiative with numerous aims, said co-founder Kristina Smith.

“Our ultimate goal is to have more affordable housing for renters as well as allow an option for seniors who want to age in place or stay in their home,” she told Global News.

The initiative targets young adults aged 25 and over, as well as empty nesters aged 50 and older who do not have complex care needs.

READ MORE: Census 2016: some of Vancouver’s richest areas are emptying out

It’s a project based on similar models in the U.S. and Europe that connect young people seeking housing with aging residents who want to reduce their monthly bills by having a roommate.

Young renters could have rentals below market rates in exchange for providing five to 10 hours of help with household chores.

“Spending time with the homeowner, perhaps partaking in doing grocery shopping to walking the pet, really light household activities,” Smith said.

The project would see both renters and empty nesters fill out applications so that their needs would be matched.

They would be asked to describe their personalities, their strengths, their hobbies, interests and more.

Empty Nests would then interview people to link them up.

A screenshot from the Empty Nests website.

Empty Nests

“We need to do some personal questions, a bit of that’s like online dating,” Smith said.

“What do you like, what are your interests, to make sure that people actually have a connection.”

Seniors’ advocates have called Empty Nests a creative solution to a pressing problem.

“With 50 per cent of all B.C. seniors living under $26,000 a year, and 35 per cent of all seniors living under $20,000 a year, we’re certainly having to come up with novel and new ways for seniors to be able to secure the current housing that they have,” said Leslie Remund with the 411 Seniors Centre Society.

Empty Nests hopes to connect the first pairs this summer.

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