Toronto seniors and students coming together under one roof

Alethea Ng is a second-year journalism student at Ryerson University. Ng has been living with Pam Bliss as “roommates” for the last two weeks.

“For my first year I lived in an apartment with two other students – which was great – it just felt impersonal,” said Ng.

“I felt like I was living with strangers not like family.”

“She’s lovely … We get on well and for Alethea, it’s cheaper than being in residency and it’s more like home for her,” said homeowner Pam Bliss.

Both Ng and Bliss are participating in the Toronto HomeShare program. It matches older adults with a room to spare in their home with university or college students looking for affordable housing.

“It’s perfect because I’ve lived alone for the last 18 months since my husband died and I am used to having someone with me,” said Bliss.

“The house was very quiet and I was lonely. I see my kids on weekends, but they are all working so we thought HomeShare would be a great idea.”

“I thought it was a great way not only to get subsidized rent, but to get someone who really has your back at all times,” Ng said.

“HomeShare matches you with someone who they think you will get along with and then you meet them in person to get a feel for each other and the living situation.”

In exchange for reduced rent, the student provides seven hours per week of companionship and needs to help around the house — such as preparing and sharing of meals, tidying up, or getting groceries.

“The thing I do the most is I cook for Pam,” Ng said.

“I love to cook and it’s a great way to give back to her.”

“I wasn’t used to cooking for one person so I didn’t,” said Bliss. “This way Pam cooks and we try to shop to get food in the house and I think it’s working out really well.”

Facilitated by a team of social workers, HomeShare makes sure the safety of participants comes first by completing screenings as well as safety checks on all homes.

“Pam phones if she’s going to be late home from school,” Bliss said.

“It’s like having my daughters back home.”

“It’s quite amazing to see an accumulation of decades or experience in one person,” Ng said.

“I’m really looking forward to learning more from her.”


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