British Columbia·Roomies

B.C. company helps seniors find young people to share a home, expenses

Happipad is a B.C.-based company that connects seniors with space in their homes with younger people looking for affordable housing to rent.

Happipad connects people looking for company and affordable housing

Happipad guest Natalia Šišoláková, 31, left and roommate Alphada Sefiuk, 83, right, in Kelowna B.C. (Amanda Poole)

Some adventurous seniors are opening their homes to young people looking for affordable housing by using a homesharing company that vets potential roommates.

Happipad, a British Columbia-based company, provides a roommate matchmaking service through its website that helps people establish connections by creating personal profiles and uploading pictures of rooms available — a bit like Airbnb and a dating site combined.

Happipad co-founder and CEO Cailin Libby says the benefits of the housing arrangement are two fold. 

"It allows seniors to have some social connections and perhaps some extra income to let them stay in their homes," said Libby.

And their younger tenants get access to housing that doesn't break the bank.

But Peter Kashaya, 19, said cheaper rent was only one part of why he liked living with older, unrelated people.

"I think seniors are less of a hassle to live with than someone my own age, to be honest, because they just do their own thing. They don't really make noise."

Peace of mind

Happipad also takes security seriously. The company works to provide peace of mind by checking if applicants have a record of criminal or at-risk behaviours in 110,000 databases in 240 countries. Professional interventions, such as counselling services, are provided by the company when conflicts need help being resolved.

Comparable programs to Happipad have been operating internationally for decades, but gerontologist Gloria Gutman attributes a recent rise in the practice to the housing crisis

"When the markets are tight, these types of models re-emerge," said Gutman.

According to the latest Census of Canada report, 418,370 bedrooms remain empty in senior-owned homes across the Lower Mainland. 

What is homesharing?

Similar to any other roommate situation, the bedrooms are private and the common spaces such as the kitchen, bathroom and living rooms are shared. 

In a study that published in 1989, "Homesharing Matchup Agencies for Seniors," the labour of finding a tenant made the job tedious and costly for seniors due to the transitory nature of younger people.   

Happipad says thanks to technology, the manual labour of making matches has been replaced and costs have been reduced.

The company currently serves Kelowna and Okanagan area with plans to expand across B.C. by September and eventually throughout Canada.


Roomies is a week-long radio series exploring intergenerational living.
The series runs Aug. 12-16 on CBC Radio One's morning shows in B.C.

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