WENTZVILLE, Mo. (AP) — When her husband died during a car accident, Karen Krienke, 65, found herself unexpectedly alone. Her range in Wentzville — once crowded with children — felt big and empty. Moreover, a nasty back was slowing her down.
Her daughter, who lives in Washington, D.C. worried.
“She’s so social,” Jane Krienke told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I didn’t want her to be by herself.”
Then, this summer, she found a St. Louis startup that matches older adults who have room to spare with millennials — often graduate students — who need a fairly priced place to measure .
Odd Couples Housing, which made its first match in late 2018, taps into a market driven by unprecedented growth within the over-65 population, baby boomers who want to stay in their homes but could also be cash-strapped or could use help with household chores. So far, the corporate has made about 20 matches; it hopes to extend that tenfold by the top of this year.
Similar services have popped up, largely in high-priced cities, from San Diego to Boston. The National Shared Housing Resource Center lists quite three dozen cross-generational homeshare organizations within the U.S., most of which are operated by nonprofits or government agencies.
“Affordable housing are often the make or break,” said Betsy Werley, executive of the Encore Network, a San Francisco nonprofit that gives resources on aging and intergenerational connections. “But friendship and companionship may be a piece of it.”
Initially, Odd Couples founder John Levis envisioned a “Golden Girls” scenario, with older singles sharing expenses and space. Levis, a former underwriter , had witnessed the advantages for his mother-in-law when she moved in together with her sister. He took the thought to graduate students at Washington University’s Olin School of Business to review its viability.
That’s when “The Golden Girls” got a plot twist.
If two seniors move in together and it doesn’t compute , one are going to be displaced. But millennials are “highly portable,” the researchers told him. and lots of are swimming in college debt.
The hub of universities in St. Louis — and, particularly, their contingent of international students — makes the town well-suited to such efforts, said Levis.
“Once we saw that this was a requirement , we decided to create the corporate around it,” he said.
He enlisted Brian Carpenter, a professor in Washington U.’s department of psychological and brain sciences, to draft compatibility questions for potential matches.
Carpenter’s students developed a group of about 40, starting with the deal-breakers, like whether smoking is suitable or which neighborhoods are feasible.
“Then we advance to things that are more preferences than rules,” he said. How warm does one wish to keep the house? Are you an early bird or an evening owl?
And finally, personality types: Outgoing or introverted? Optimist or pessimist?
Carpenter’s students created an algorithm that calculates a “match score,” not unlike the formulas dating apps use. As more applications are submitted, the scores will become better predictors, he said.
“We never expect inquiries to be perfect,” he said. “It’s a shorthand.”
Karen Krienke’s new housemate moved during this month.
Megan Mattox, a transfer student at Logan University, was sent six potential matches within three weeks of filling out the Odd Couples questionnaire last fall. After talking with Krienke over the phone, Mattox, 33, drove from Iowa for a visit.
While she was here, she raked Krienke’s leaves, and therefore the two women agreed on the responsibilities Mattox would take on: bringing within the mail, removing the trash. They decide to share a few of meals every week .
“It are going to be nice to possess a touch company,” Krienke said.
Mattox declined to mention what proportion she was paying Krienke, but said it had been a few quarter of what a close-by apartment would cost. Odd Couples suggests an amount supported what proportion the “seeker” — the younger housemate — will help , but doesn’t call the payment “rent” because that might trigger a liabilities for the homeowner.
The company also provides a template for the topics to hide before an agreement is signed: daily habits, idiosyncrasies, special needs.
“Each case is different,” said Levis.
He and a partner used their own capital to launch the corporate . Eventually, he said, homeowners can pay a fee to seem for a match. He also thinks the web site will draw advertising from companies that focus on seniors and millennials. Odd Couples, which has four full-time employees, recently added an on-campus recruiter and community outreach coordinator to assist beat up interest.
Sally Lorino, 68, the primary homeowner to be matched, heard about the program from a neighbor. The retired Webster University dean uses a wheelchair and had two upstairs bedrooms sitting empty in her Crestwood home.
She connected with Nagesh Khanvilkar, a grad student at Webster University, in November 2018. When that went well, she figured she might also fill the second bedroom. Khanvilkar’s classmate, Amisha Wankhede, moved in in May.
“University housing was very expensive,” said Wankhede, 24, who is from India.
Wankhede makes lunch and dinner for Lorino, and pays her $150 a month. Khanvilkar, 32, has fewer household responsibilities and pays $240.
But for Wankhede, affordability is simply one benefit. Having an older housemate has given her a fresh perspective.
“I was slogging to realize my master’s degree,” she said. “When I started staying with Sally, I began to enjoy new things and explore new things. She’s very informative.”
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