Serena Anagbe / Photo Editor
Screenshot from the SpacesShared website.
On Oct. 19, Wilfrid Laurier University announced a partnership with SpacesShared, a platform that matches adults with extra space in their home with students looking for more affordable housing.
“We know that the housing access from both an availability and affordability perspective are absolutely being felt by our students and in our communities — both in Waterloo and in Brantford,” said Drew Piticco, Laurier’s director of ancillary and strategic initiatives.
Laurier is the first university to partner with SpacesShared. Georgian College and Humber College announced their partnerships with the platform earlier in the year.
After beginning talks with SpacesShared in the summer, Piticco said, “We got to the place where we felt fairly confident that this group is trying to genuinely address critical challenges facing the Canadian population.”
While the partnership is still in its early stages, the focus is on spreading awareness to students and potential hosts about the platform and home sharing. Piticco is hopeful that Laurier students could begin using the platform in January, he said.
“What’s been extremely encouraging is just seeing these relationships between older adults and students bloom and hear them talk about what that relationship has meant to each of them,” said Rylan Kinnon, SpacesShared’s CEO. “It’s been extremely powerful.”
Kinnon said SpacesShared hopes to address two main challenges — providing safe and affordable housing for students and helping older adults get what they need to be able to age in place.
Users who go through the matching process together can sign a home share agreement to work out the details of their living arrangement, including potential “helper’s discounts” for students who choose to do extra tasks around the house.
SpacesShared provides a set list of tasks that qualify for the helper’s discount, none of which include personal care, and hosts can only ask for up to five hours of help a week. For each hour of housework a student agrees to do weekly, a 5 per cent discount will be applied to their rent.
Since hosts share their kitchens with the students they’re matched with, both parties sign a home share agreement instead of the typical lease most are used to. Because of this, parties are not covered by Ontario’s Residencial Tenancies Act or the Landlord Tenant Board, which is responsible for resolving rental disputes.
“In any case where there is a match breakdown, we’re going to understand where it happened, we support where we can,” said Kinnon. “But we do expect our users to live up to the commitments they’ve made on the platform.”
To learn more about SpacesShared or to create a profile, visit spacesshared.ca.
This article was originally published in print Volume 23, Issue 4 on Thursday, Dec. 7.