Home Share Oregon: Matchmaking for Roommates


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — With the cost of real estate and rents rising steadily, Portland is now one of the least affordable cities in the country. More and more people are on the verge of losing their homes.

The cost of a one-bedroom apartment in Portland has risen to $1,381 per month, according to MultiFamily NW. Between December 2020 and December 2021, average home prices in Portland rose from $494,000 to $571,900, according to the Regional inter-agency service

But there’s a program underway in Portland that’s a beacon of hope for people on the edge — if it can gain traction. The idea: Get people to share their home with a stranger.

It may sound scary, but it’s something Apartment Sharing Oregon hope will become the new normal.

Gayle and Brenda

Until a little over a month ago, Gayle MacDonald and Brenda Rose had never met in person. Now the recent strangers and each of their dogs, Paulie and Hazel, share a home in northeast Portland.

“I can’t afford this whole house myself,” MacDonald told KOIN 6 News. She knew she couldn’t keep this house on her own fixed income. But her friends warned her against this plan.

“I have a 96-year-old friend. She’s like, ‘Oh no, don’t do that. It sounds really dangerous. Like, you don’t know who you’re going to get,'” she said.

Meanwhile, Rose’s photography business has been crushed by COVID.

“And then, all of a sudden, I had no more income. So my rent was $1,350 a month and I couldn’t afford it,” she told KOIN 6 News. “And my sister said, ‘Hey, I’ve got this RV in my driveway. You know, you can live with this for a little while until you find out. In Michigan.

Rose brought the RV to Portland — and lived there on the streets for 15 months.

“There’s so much space between you and the world,” she said. “I put a security system on, I had the dog, but it’s in terms of, like, how it feels in your nervous system. It’s super stressful. »

She started searching the internet for places to live. MacDonald was looking for people to live with her. Eventually, each landed on the same website – Home Share Oregon.

Security, background checks, registrations

Much like dating apps match potential couples, Home Share Oregon matches potential roommates — someone like MacDonald who has a house with extra bedrooms and someone like Rose who can afford low rent.

The match is made through a long list of compatibility issues.

“I think the security room, I think I was surprised that I didn’t feel unsafe,” Rose said. “I had to do a background check. We had to do background checks and I like that.

Tess Fields runs Home Share Oregon, a nonprofit launched last year.

“Our biggest challenge is that for every landlord we’ve signed up for Home Share, we have four roommates who want a Home Share,” Fields said.

Homer Williams discusses his 4-point plan to solve homelessness in Portland, April 22, 2021. (KOIN)

Home Share Oregon is backed by Homer Williams, the well-known Portland developer who also launched the Harbor of Hope Refuge. In April 2021, he told KOIN 6 News why he turned his attention to programs dealing with the housing crisis.

“I realized about 4 or 5 years ago that half of the baby boomers were broke and we didn’t have a plan for them, so I thought I’d better find another way to support them. house,” Williams said at the time.

So far, 1254 people have registered for Apartment Sharing Oregon wanting to rent a room in a house. But only 346 owners registered. It’s a ratio that Home Share hopes to change by reaching people who might need help.

Brenda Rose, left, and Gayle MacDonald were matched as roommates through Home Share Oregon, January 2022 (KOIN)

“A lot of people bought their homes many years ago. They won’t find an apartment cheaper than the house they mostly live in now,” Fields said. “We really want to encourage people to try home sharing before they try to release their sense of security and then jump into a rental market that isn’t viable for most.”

A Census Bureau survey in December 2021 showed that 55,323 people in Oregon are behind on their mortgages. In Washington, that number is 88,830 — where foreclosure protection ended months ago.

Share your thoughts with us on our “Is Portland Over?” series by emailing us at [email protected]

In Oregon, the moratorium on foreclosures expired Dec. 31, exposing more vulnerable people.

“You are reaching a certain age. I would say in the 60s for me, where you start thinking strongly about all that,” MacDonald said. “I don’t think about it once. With Brenda’s contribution, I feel really comfortable.

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