Students and Seniors: Intergenerational Homesharing in Kingston, Ontario
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As Ontario’s aging population increases, so do reports of loneliness and social isolation amongst seniors. Local-level strategies to curb loneliness amongst seniors have the potential to improve the health and well-being of seniors – and incidentally, the well-being of students. Student-senior homesharing draws students and seniors into a mutually-beneficial intergenerational living arrangement, where seniors gain social interaction and students secure affordable rental housing. By drawing insight from student-senior homesharing programs that have been adopted in Hamilton and Toronto, this report examines the potential viability of homesharing between students and seniors in Kingston. This research contributes to an overarching discussion on intergenerational living by providing additional insight into student-senior homesharing, and offering research-based recommendations that can be applied in the development of a student-senior homesharing program in Kingston. A multi-level case study was employed using a mixed-methods approach to data collection, utilizing an online survey to capture the perspectives of Queen’s University graduate students on the student housing market and attitudes towards intergenerational living. Interviews with local informants explored attitudes towards, and need for, student-senior homesharing in Kingston, and interviews with informants from Hamilton and Toronto gaged the conditions for successful project implementation. The research findings demonstrate that loneliness and a difficult rental market serve as conditions for implementing a student-senior homesharing project. Despite these conditions occurring in Kingston, the majority of graduate students are not interested in living with a senior. Interest in living with a senior is highly variable and personal, but can be predicted by a number of factors. While student-senior homesharing projects occur at a small scale, the human connection generated within the community makes these projects highly valuable, providing a variety of benefits and opportunities to both students and seniors.