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Chosen Family Pods

Streetohome is exploring ‘Chosen Family Pods’ – a shared housing model that promises 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. Chosen Family Pods involve three or more individuals, who know each other, choosing to live together interdependently and share their spaces and their lives.

Chosen Family Pods provide a wide variety of benefits including social connection and support, physical and economic security; as well as reduced social isolation. Sharing household items contributes to a lower carbon footprint than living alone. Private bedrooms and communal common areas provide options to embrace or to limit social interaction according to changing preferences. Shared housing also enables individuals to remain in their neighbourhood despite rising unaffordable rents, or alternatively, choose to live in a nicer neighbourhood that they otherwise would be unable to afford.

The model offers a more affordable housing choice for a wide variety of demographics, especially those with a low or fixed income, including youth, seniors, social assistance recipients, students, immigrants and refugees, and the low income workforce. Not only can shared rental housing increase the limited rental supply stock and affordability, ultimately, it can increase the quality of life for those who choose to take advantage of its numerous benefits.

Streetohome compiled a business case to explore the benefits of shared housing for those living in BC. The work explores shared housing policy and practice in multiple jurisdictions in Canada and the United States. It also identifies outdated regulations regarding zoning and limiting the number of unrelated individuals that can live together as preventing it from being implemented.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 that provincial and municipal incentives can go a long way to ensuring that Chosen Family Pods get built.

The business case outlines support for shared housing and recommendations for BC, including:

  • Enacting provincial legislation prohibiting municipalities from using local bylaws to prevent unrelated individuals from living together;
  • Educating stakeholders on the benefits of sharing lives and sharing spaces, and changing the narrative around living together; and
  • Piloting shared housing models, accompanied by municipal and provincial incentives, to better meet the needs of landlords and many housemates across British Columbia.