May 2, 2019 3:45 pm

Trent Housing Colloquium to focus on pairing senior citizens with students in Peterborough

WATCH: Trent University is hosting a housing colloquium to focus on the feasability of a home-sharing project that would pair seniors with post-secondary students.


Trent University researchers are exploring the feasibility of a home-sharing project that would pair senior citizens with students in Peterborough.

On Thursday afternoon, the university hosted the Trent Housing Colloquium, a discussion focusing on co-housing between adults and post-secondary students. The event was organized by the university’s psychology department and the Trent Centre for Aging and Society and featured with community partners, stakeholders and students from Trent and Fleming colleges.

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The guest speaker was Dr. Raza Mirza, a senior research associate at the University of Toronto who launched Canada’s first intergenerational home-sharing pilot project in Toronto.

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Prior to the discussion, Elizabeth Russell, a Trent assistant professor in psychology, appeared on Global News Morning Peterborough. She said the event was intended to gauge local interest in a home-sharing project.

“We are really looking forward to getting key stakeholders, who are involved in housing one way or another in the Peterborough area, into a room to simply just hear what Dr. Mirza has to say and to hear about (what) some of the advantages, challenges and implementation factors have been in this to see if it would be a good fit for this area,” said Elizabeth Russell, a Trent assistant professor in psychology.

Mirza’s pilot project matched a dozen post-secondary students with older adults who offered to rent out space in their homes during the school year. The students’ rent was subsidized in exchange for doing household chores.

The premise is to allow older adults to age “in place” and to allow them to give back to the community and a younger generation.

“There are a lot of benefits for older people for having someone from a younger generation living and sharing their space in a really nice and formal way,” said Russell.

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However, the pilot in Toronto has highlighted some challenges, such as security concerns, personality challenges and compatibility, noted Russell.

“I think if a program is implemented in a really positive way and a really thoughtful way in that there is appropriate matching, whether it be on personality factors or what they’re interested in,” said Bennett. “Whether young or old, people are people so just intuitively making a good match, I think, is (a) really important thing we’re looking forward to hearing about.”

For students, the benefits include financial savings and increased productivity.

“I hear it all the time from my classes. Students are really crunched, students living with five others in an apartment,” said Russell. “That has challenges financially but also for their studying, their productivity and happiness. And that’s really important in doing well in school. There are a lot of ways the perfect student could have a good fit in this program and do really well.”

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