Nonprofits to fight housing crisis by matching women with roommates

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File Photo: Homes as seen from Pacific Crest Park in Saugus in 2015.

With higher rent costs and fewer available places to live, Santa Clarita residents of all ages are in need of affordable housing solutions, according to several local organizations.

In an effort to address this problem, the Domestic Violence Center, the Senior Center and Bridge to Home representatives are starting Sisters in Time, a housing program specifically for women.

Through the program, which is still in its planning stages, women of different ages would get matched as roommates based on common interests and living preferences.

There is a “critical need” for a program like this to help women on low or fixed incomes, Senior Center Director of Volunteers, Recreation and Education Robin Clough said.

“So many people are living in fear,” Clough said. “They shouldn’t have this kind of anxiety at this time in their lives.”

Sisters in Time coordinators envision introducing potential roommates through either a “speed dating” process or a survey.

Santa Clarita residents should not have to leave their roots in the valley or become homeless because they are unable to afford their rent, Clough said.

“We have to have some empathy,” she said. “We just can’t let this happen to seniors in our community.”

Not only will this meet the practical need of affordable housing, but the emotional need of companionship, according to Clough. Partnering younger women with seniors will prevent them from being isolated and will be a mutually beneficial learning experience, she suggests.

In addition to finding shared housing for pairs, Clough said she envisions “Golden Girls”-style communal housing as well.

While the Senior Center has a Support Services Department to meet seniors’ needs, Clough said securing housing for seniors remains a primary concern.

The goal is not for younger roommates to serve as caretakers for seniors, but to live independent lives while sharing expenses, according to Domestic Violence Center Executive Director Linda Davies.

“It’s a really beautiful concept,” Davies said. “Who knows who will come and what their issues will be?”

Once the program moves further along, coordinators will look to get a social worker or a case manager for Sisters in Time.

For the coordinators to get a better idea of what residents would like to see from Sisters in Time, community focus groups will be held on Sept. 13 from 9 to 10:30 a.m. and 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Savia Community Center in Newhall.

Peggy Edwards, a member of the Zonta Club and the Bridge to Home Board of Directors, said she has been wanting to start a program like this for a long time.

“We think it’s a really good concept for Santa Clarita because housing prices are so high,” Edwards said. “We want to hear from the community what they like and what their concerns are.”

To RSVP or to get more information, contact Robin Clough at [email protected] or  661-259-9444.

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