Let's Share Housing offers a chance to share skills, friendship and finances

For Michele Fiasca, potential housing matches are everywhere:

An older person who lives alone in a big home they can’t maintain or afford anymore could be matched with a younger person who can’t afford to buy a home or rent an apartment.

One single parent could be matched with another single parent.

Or maybe you hate to cook: “Wouldn’t it be great to live with someone who loved to cook?” said Fiasca, who recently spoke at the Cornelius Public Library.

Fiasca founded Let’s Share Housing, a small business that aims to help potential housemate matches find each other. Since starting it started in 2009, Let’s Share Housing has matched only 25 to 50 people in the Portland area, Fiasca estimates. But with a new website, Fiasca hopes that number will increase.

The shared-housing approach is partly a creative solution to homelessness. But it’s not just for people who can’t afford to pay property taxes or rent or a mortgage, Fiasca said. It can also be for people who want a slower pace. “People really don’t have to work till they drop,” she said. “If we shared our lives and expenses, people would have more leisure time to do what they want to do.”

Would-be housing matches go to and fill out a personal profile. Homeowners must also fill out a profile of the home they’re hoping to share. After browsing through the profiles, people can start to contact potential matches by paying $30 for a three-month period.

Let’s Share Housing also hosts “Meet-ups” on the east and west sides of Portland.

“People’s biggest fear is ‘What if it doesn’t work? What if I get the wrong person?” said Fiasca, who recommends lots of exploratory meetings between potential matches. Fiasca, for example, has had at least four meet-ups with a woman she’s currently considering sharing her home with: They saw a movie, went dancing and ate a couple meals together.

She also suggests trial runs, inviting the potential housemate to stay in the home for a weekend or 10 days to see how the match feels.

“You have to know yourself,” Fiasca said. “If you’re a night owl, you might not want to live with an early bird.” Pets, too, can be a deal-breaker. Issues of privacy, overnight guests, even diet (would a vegan want to live with a carnivore?) need to be considered when meeting and exploring a potential match.

Ruthie Sahnow, who works at the Cornelius library and attended Fiasca’s talk, said her daughter is a single mom who owns her own home and is now in between renters. Sahnow thought it might work well for her daughter to look for another single mom on the Let’s Share Housing site.

Fiasca recently helped match two single parents — one a mom, the other a divorced dad who needs to be out of his house soon — who coincidentally lived just a few blocks from each other. “He happens to be a very handy guy,” Fiasca said, and “will work off part of his rent doing home improvements.”

Al Almahdi of Heroes Motorsport, a nonprofit that helps veterans, also attended the program and said it might be a good option for the many homeless veterans.

For safety purposes, Fiasca recommends people pay for their own criminal background check to address any concerns potential housemates might have. She also recommends checking into references and rental history for potential matches.

Fiasca herself has previously lived with two matches, one which she says ended by mutual decision due to some problems that arose over their first year together. Another one lasted a couple of years and ended more easily.

In case a match causes more serious problems, Fiasca pays $20 a month to Legal Shield, which will provide legal representation.

So many people “live by ourselves in our isolated lives,” Fiasca said. But shared housing “brings people back to each other.”

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