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New SLO County housing program offers low rent for work exchange

Smart Share Housing Solutions
HomeShareSLO lowered its fees for matchmaking between homeowners and prospective workshare tenants.

Renting in San Luis Obispo County is not cheap, and for many, the pandemic is adding more financial strain. To help, a SLO County housing program is offering low rent prices in exchange for work.

If you need affordable rent in SLO County, or have an extra room but could use some help with chores, Celeste Goyer with Smart Share Housing Solutions said their new program could be a good match. 

It’s called Reduced Rent Homeshares with Task Exchange.

“This is a request we’ve had for a long time," Goyer said. "People call us who have a room in their home, mostly single seniors living alone who would like to exchange the room rent for some help with household tasks.”

Here’s how it works, Goyer said. The renter agrees to work between five and eight hours a week, which would lower their rent to $400 or $500 a month. Or, the renter could take on the maximum amount of work, at 15 hours a week—then the only amount the renter would have to pay is $150 a month to cover utilities.

“There are certain limitations," Goyer said. "No personal care tasks are allowed. But beyond that, it is an agreement between the two of them.”

Agreements on shared spaces would be outlined for COVID-19 safety precautions, at least while the pandemic is ongoing.

Goyer said common tasks include light housekeeping, rides to appointments and errands, pet care, yard work and meal preparation. The householder also agrees to provide two days off per week to the renter from doing any tasks.

“There are no age restrictions or income restrictions in either direction," Goyer said. "For the most part, the home providers who are looking for this service are usually older, but not always.”

Goyer said the nonprofit conducts thorough background checks on both parties to ensure safety and roommate compatibility.

Due to the financial struggles some may be facing, Goyer said the SmartShare has the process of matching more affordable. 

“We’ve addressed the financial challenges by eliminating our seeker screening and application fee," Goyer said. "And we’ve cut the match fee for home providers who end up choosing a housemate through our program by half.”

The program launched this month, for those interested they can go to homeshareslo.org

Angel Russell is a former KCBX News reporter who started her career in journalism as a reporter and producer for KREX on Colorado's Western Slope; she later moved to the Central Coast to work for KSBY as weekend anchor and weekday reporter. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and playing guitar and piano.
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