Community

Affordable-housing advocates hold forum, explore concept of home sharing in Los Altos

Seeking solutions to a pressing problem, the Los Altos Affordable Housing Working Group hosted the forum “Home Sharing in Los Altos: How It Works and Benefits to Homeowners” last week at the Los Altos main library.

The group touted home sharing as a way to use existing resources to expand opportunities for affordable housing, estimating that there are 13,000 homes in Los Altos and Los Altos Hills, many with two or more spare bedrooms.

The April 2 program included the following six panelists, who addressed the need for home sharing and offered home-sharing solutions.

• Susan Castillo, program manager of Catholic Charities, described the organization’s efforts to match people needing rooms with homeowners. The program offers background checks and pairs people based on their interests and needs. Homeowners can benefit both financially and socially through companionship with their tenant, according to Castillo. For more information, visit catholiccharitiesscc.org/house-sharing.

• Erin Green, director of student and staff services for the Los Altos School District, outlined the challenges she faces in hiring and retaining teachers given the local cost of housing. She encouraged homeowners with detached units or rooms with separate entrances to register soon on the district’s Staff Housing Community Bulletin Board, as new teachers are set to start in August. To register, visit tinyurl.com/lasdhousing.

• Kathryn Fisk, chief human relations officer at El Camino Hospital, pointed out that many health-care workers have two- to three-hour round-trip commutes because of expensive local housing. Homeowners willing to rent to a health-care worker or caregiver can register at elcaminohospital.org/landing/staff-housing.

• Thuy Thi Nguyen, president of Foothill College, discussed how the housing crisis impacts Foothill students. A recent survey revealed that a significant number of community college students have experienced homelessness, with some sleeping in cars or RVs or couch surfing. The college has scheduled a summit on student housing June 14.

• Rachael Bruketta, HubHaus project manager, presented the company’s innovative co-living approach as an alternative to renting an expensive apartment while creating a community of working professionals. For more information, visit thehubhaus.com.

• Barbara Liedtke, senior home-sharing coordinator for the HIP Housing program in San Mateo, detailed how the program has matched seniors with housing opportunities for more than 27 years. For more information, visit hiphousing.org.

The Los Altos Affordable Housing Working Group has scheduled a follow-up discussion, “All About Accessory Dwelling Units: Another Way to Provide More Affordable Housing for Los Altos,” 7-8:30 p.m. May 15 at the Los Altos Youth Center, 1 N. San Antonio Road.

For more information, visit losaltosaffordablehousing.org.

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