October 27, 2023 | Blog

A Case for Sharing Lives and Sharing Spaces

Extended family eating and laughing together

A more affordable housing choice could be on its way to BC, if governments are willing to champion the needed incentives, zoning, and efficient approval processes to facilitate the delivery of this housing.

Chosen Family Pods (CFPs) – a shared housing model – could help to increase affordability and make housing accessible to individuals on a fixed- or low-income, including those at-risk for, and/or with lived experience of homelessness. CFPs involve three or more individuals, who know each other, choosing to live together interdependently to share their lives and spaces with one another as a ‘chosen family’.

CFPs provide numerous benefits including an increased sense of connection, mutual support, reduced isolation and loneliness, and increased physical and economic security. It is also green – reducing housing’s carbon footprint. Further, shared housing also enables individuals to remain in their neighbourhood despite rising rents, or alternatively, choose to live in a better neighbourhood that they may otherwise be unable to afford. Not only can shared housing increase the limited rental supply stock and affordability, ultimately, sharing lives and spaces can increase the quality of life for those who choose to take advantage of it.

“Shared housing would greatly benefit seniors. We see them become increasingly isolated and lonely, and stressed due to ever-increasing rents. The CFP model promotes community and economic security while also providing an opportunity to remain in a familiar neighbourhood,” says Alison Silgardo, CEO, Seniors Services Society of BC, and Streetohome Shared Housing Advisory Committee member.

Streetohome’s business case takes a comprehensive look at shared housing for those living in BC. The work explores shared housing policy and practices in multiple jurisdictions and identifies outdated regulations regarding zoning and limiting the number of unrelated individuals that can live together as preventing it from being implemented. The business case concludes with key recommendations for BC to champion innovative shared housing initiatives to increase housing equitability and affordability for all.