County Establishes House-Sharing Program: High Impact ‘Without Pounding a Single Nail’

April 3, 2018


SAN JOSE – The Board of Supervisors this week established a house sharing program in Santa Clara County, effectively expanding the county’s housing supply without any new construction. Originally proposed by Board President Joe Simitian, the new program will connect people who have extra room and an interest in extra income with a person who is in need of housing.

“House sharing provides an expansion of the housing supply without the need to spend a dollar on property acquisition or pound a single nail,” said Simitian. “It takes advantage of excess capacity, and gets more people under the roofs we already have.” 

House sharing programs can be especially attractive to some seniors, who might be interested in renting out their extra space, but might not feel comfortable using internet-based solutions. Because of this, housing sharing programs include measures to reduce the opportunity for any type of misuse or abuse.

The program will be operated by Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County (CCSCC), which operated a similar program in the past. It will initially operate on a pilot basis through June of 2020, with a goal of making at least 100 matches each year.

The house sharing program will not exclude any individuals or households based solely on income level, but will be targeted to certain populations such as low income and underserved county residents including seniors, students, and young professionals.

“House sharing has the opportunity to solve two problems at once,” said Simitian. “We’ve got a lot of people who are ‘house rich, but cash poor,’ and a lot of people who can’t afford to pay rent on a place of their own. This program gives folks who have space a way to get a little extra income, and it helps folks in need find housing.”

Similar house sharing programs are in place in nearby counties. San Mateo County’s program began in 1972 and serves over 700 residents a year, while San Francisco County began their program in 2016.

Simitian noted that, “If San Mateo County, which has less than half the population of Santa Clara County, can find housing for more than 700 folks, the potential here is really extraordinary.”

“We’ve seen that this model can work,” said Simitian. “There’s a real need for housing, and there’s available space that’s ready to be used. Our goal here is to connect the two.”

"Catholic Charities is thrilled to work with Santa Clara County to once again offer our House Sharing program which we ran for twenty-five years," said Catholic Charities CEO Gregory Kepferle. "With the high cost of housing affecting all incomes, Catholic Charities is honored to once more offer a creative way for people of different incomes to make ends meet by sharing the cost of housing even as we work to create a just and compassionate community."

Anyone interested in taking part in the new house sharing program should contact CCSCC at 408-325-5226 or email [email protected].


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