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Match-making service connects home-sharing hosts and guests

WATCH ABOVE: Community reporter Shay Galor visits a Happipad house in Kelowna to chat with the host and guest about their experience with home-sharing.

We’ve heard of matchmaking for singles, but how about matchmaking for home sharing?

At Happipad, the concept is simple — hosts with a spare room are matched with guests looking for a place to stay.

“Simply put, we’re a non-romantic matchmaking service for people who want to home-share,” said Happipad CEO and founder Cailan Libby.

The Kelowna-based startup differs from companies like Airbnb because it focuses on longer-term housing solutions.

“It’s really an affordable housing option for long-term, for someone who’s moving to a new city,” Libby said. “Oftentimes, it’s students or young professionals or individuals who need affordable housing solutions. It’s really different from renting as you are sharing spaces, so you’re developing connections and relationships.”

From single moms looking for help with their kids to elderly hosts who need someone to drive them around or purchase groceries, hosts and guests are developing long-term bonds that are akin to family.

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Libby says the company takes safety seriously, conducting background checks on both hosts and guests.

“The most thorough background checks in the industry,” Libby said. “As well, we perform a personality and interest assessment, so not just what they say they like, but actually what their personality profile is and making sure there is compatibility in the household.”

Johannah Wirzba had never been to Kelowna before accepting a position in the city. She needed a place to live in a hurry.

Wirzba stumbled upon the Happipad website and was immediately drawn to the idea of sharing a home.

“I read their mission statement and I really believe strongly in sustainable living and living with other people,” Wirzba said. “And it worked out really well because it was a great opportunity to meet people because I didn’t know anybody, but also to feel settled and to have a place to live.”

The strong bond between Wirzba and her host, Judy Askeland, resembles that of a grandmother and granddaughter.

“It’s great just to share your day with someone,” Wirzba said. “And it was amazing that he could match us up based on our interests and our personalities and our lifestyles, which is great, because it has been a good match.”

Wirzba encourages others looking for a home to get in touch with Happipad.

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“Every match and situation is going to be a bit different because it is so personalized to who you are and what you’re looking for,” Wirzba said.

READ MORE: Some Kelowna landlords using loophole to get around illegal short-term rentals

Askeland was one of the first hosts in Kelowna to get matched up. She had just entered into a new mortgage and finances were tight. She needed a bit of extra income.

“I did have questions initially about bringing a stranger into my home. I’m 70. Once you get on in years, you become a little bit afraid of change and something new,” Askeland said. “But Cailan was so welcoming and he had all the answers and he set up so many different fail-safes that I had to at least try it.”

After trying Happipad, Askeland would sign up again for the process.

“I thoroughly enjoy the company. I watch for her car every night. It’s very much like having a granddaughter,” Askeland said. “After Johannah goes on to bigger and better things, I plan to carry on with it.”

Happipad will be expanding throughout British Columbia and is accepting new guests and hosts.

To find out more, visit the Happipad website.

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