Tucson ‘Home Sharing’ allows seniors to live together, share expenses

Updated: Mar. 24, 2021 at 10:37 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Two women in Tucson are paving the way for a new way to age in place.

Sharon Kha and Deborah Knox started Tucson Home Sharing, that started when Kha noticed she could no longer stay in her home by herself after her Parkinson’s got worse.

“I would have to have somebody to live with me,” said Kha. “So I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to move in with somebody who was your best friend and go through the aging process together?”

Through a mutual friend she found Knox, who was in a place with a mortgage that was too expensive. After a few phone calls, the two decided to make the move and Knox joined Kha at her home in the Catalina Vista neighborhood.

The concept of home-sharing, or boommates, is being used in a few states as a way for older people to stay in a home but share expenses.

“It’s the mutuality of friendship and the benefit of affordable housing,” said Knox.

For Knox it’s a free place to live in exchange for helping Sharon when her caretaker is not there. But having each other also helps with isolation, especially in a pandemic.

“Just having another person to share an experience like that with meant a lot,” said Kha.

Their home-sharing comes as the waiting list for rent-subsidized housing has quadrupled in the last year. It’s why the City of Tucson is also looking at changing zoning codes to allow for accessory dwelling units, or small homes, to be added onto a property to use for aging parents.

“People want to stay in their homes. Kids want their parents to stay in their homes,” said Knox.

The hope is others will see their success and realize there are more options for seniors. Proving that starting a new chapter is always possible, even at the end of one’s story.

“We were planning for the end of our lives and it turned out we were planning for the beginning of a whole new adventure,” said Knox.

If you or someone you know is interested in home sharing, there is a Facebook group the two have created called Tucson Home Sharing. They are also applying for a grant through the Pima Council on Aging to do more outreach in the community.

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