Almost 90% of seniors say they want to age in their own home, but maintaining the two- and four-bedroom homes that make up 80% of U.S. housing stock can be difficult for some. Take on a younger tenant or housemate, and aging in place suddenly gets easier.
In 2017, the city of Boston teamed up with Nesterly, a local startup, to pilot a service that matches graduate students in need of cheap housing with elderly homeowners who might want some companionship and help around the house. Users pay a one-time fee ranging from $95 to $195. Nesterly does background checks and provides an online payment system for which it charges 2.5% of monthly rent. Today, there are 251 Nesterly hosts renting rooms in the Boston area.
Now, Columbus, Ohio, another big college town, is giving Nesterly a try. Nesterly calculates that baby boomers in the Columbus area have more than 27,000 spare bedrooms they might be willing to rent to students. So, this summer the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging, in partnership with Age Friendly Columbus and Franklin County, will roll out its own Nesterly platform.
The project will be marketed first to homeowners in four predominantly elderly neighborhoods. Nesterly says it will perform background checks on the homeowners and prospective renters, who will be able to communicate with each other through an app. If the plan works well, Ohio government officials say they will start extending it beyond Columbus this summer.