The Square
News and perspectives from Covia.

Monterey County homeowner Doris Beckman was struggling to keep her home – until she started home-sharing. “It’s made such a difference in my life not to have to worry about paying my bills or losing my home,” Beckman says. “I am finally able to do the needed maintenance on my home and dig my way out of the debt from my husband’s illness.”

Now, Beckman is carrying forward this personal experience into a new role – leading the expansion of Covia’s home-sharing program, Home Match, into the community she loves. “There are so many people living on the edge, just one paycheck away from losing everything,” says Beckman, who is leading the Home Match Monterey program as the Program Manager. “Home-sharing done right can relieve isolation, stress, depression, and anxiety.”

Launching in October 2020, Home Match Monterey will support multiple communities on the Monterey Peninsula, including Carmel, Del Rey Oaks, Marina, Monterey, Pacific Grove, Sand City, and Seaside. 

The seed was first planted in late 2018 when Home Match was invited to present to the Housing Options Meaningful to Elders (HOME) Collaborative. Karen Coppock, Senior Program Director of Home Match, saw this as an opportunity to deepen Covia’s local roots and help tackle the affordable housing crisis, identified by the Monterey County’s Area Agency on Aging as a top priority.

“Covia has over 55 years of history in the community through Canterbury Woods as well as Market Day and the Well Connected programs, so we are excited to expand our support to include affordable housing,” notes Coppock.

As exemplified by Beckman’s own story, the issue of affordable housing has become increasingly prevalent in Monterey County for both homeowners and renters. With many Bay Area residents moving out of San Francisco and into Monterey, housing costs are increasing and exacerbating the issue for those who work on the Monterey Peninsula but cannot afford to live there. The Monterey Bay Economic Partnership has identified that 85% of Monterey Peninsula workers commute and that over a quarter drive at least 50 miles a day. These issues are aggravated by COVID-19, which has increased financial instability and social isolation while causing increased interest in aging-in-place.

“Home Match provides an excellent solution to these issues by matching local people with extra rooms in their homes with people seeking affordable housing,” explains Coppock. “Added rent from the match allows homeowners or primary tenants to stay longer in their homes while providing an affordable housing solution to those who would not otherwise be able to afford to live in their community.”

There has already been real local demand for Home Match’s services in Monterey, with 33 people interested in offering rooms and 37 people looking for shared homes. In return, Home Match will offer its time-proven, community-centered approach that includes a person-centered application and customizable agreement process. Home Match also has safety guidelines in place during COVID-19, operates in both English and Spanish, and serves everyone regardless of their immigration status.

Reflecting on this next step in her home-sharing journey, Beckman can’t wait to get started. “I know the impact Home Match can make in the community and I am so excited to be a part of it,” she says.

Do you have an available room in your home or are you looking for affordable housing in Monterey County? If so, please visit our website to find more information and submit an inquiry form. You can also reach out to Doris Beckman directly at dbeckman@covia.org or 831-760-5529. We look forward to hearing from you!

Home Match’s expansion into Monterey would not have been possible without support from funders, endorsers, and supporters, including the Monterey County’s Department of Social Services Aging and Adult Services, and the Monterey Peninsula Foundation – host of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. In addition, funding was provided in part by a grant from the Margaret L. Musser Field of Interest fund of the Community Foundation for Monterey County. Thank you to everyone who helped make Home Match Monterey possible:

Funders:

Endorsements:

Supporters:

As we continue to shelter-in-place, Covia Community Service programs have found new ways to support their participants’ safety and well-being. For the Home Match program, staff have created new safety-informed initiatives and resource guides to support participants, sent care packages to ongoing matches, and developed digital initiatives to better reach people online.

For ongoing matches, Home Match staff have been facilitating conversations around safely sharing a home during COVID-19. “We put together a home-sharing specific questionnaire to guide productive conversations around maintaining health and safety in a shared-home, and for proactively planning for the event that a homemate becomes ill,” says Tori Shepard, Home Match Program Manager in San Francisco. “We also mediated a number of these conversations virtually, which received very positive feedback, particularly in homes where some homemates are at higher risk of severe illness.”

The Home Match team also boosted the spirits of ongoing matches by sending staff-curated care packages. These Happiness Packages consisted of fun activities that matches can participate in together as well as self-care items for relaxing while staying at home. Items included pancake mix, green tea, Rubik’s cubes, homemade soap, and puzzle books.

“We’ve received back a lot of gratitude from matches,” says Shepard. One participant wrote to say “We were truly delighted after receiving our package. In this new normal, for a couple of minutes, we felt the love of our friends and family.” 

Many participants have “also noted their gratitude for each other, as shelter-in-place buddies,” Shepard notes. “One of our matches shared that she’s grateful to be sharing her home, during these uncertain times. Since she’s at higher risk for severe illness, her homemate does all the shopping to make sure they have what they need – she’s even planted a food garden. She says it’s wonderful having someone to laugh with and talk to.”

The Home Match team has also been sharing helpful information with participants and adapting their program operations. For participants who have not yet been matched, the Home Match team provided local resource guides related to food, unemployment, and mental health. Following guidelines from local health orders and the CDC, Home Match has also adapted overall program operations to safely support participants and new matches while taking in the reality of the current situation.

“We’ve transitioned to 100% virtual operations and developed new safety procedures, in adherence with shelter-in-place orders,” notes Shepard. “All our participant interactions—including appointments, home visits, outreach activities, and Living Together Agreements—are now offered by phone or video call.

“Operating remotely has also created an opportunity to focus on the program’s online tools and presence,” says Shepard, while noting that “we are taking extra care to still reach those who do not have a computer or internet access.” Part of this focus is a new Home Match website, which debuted the week of July 24th. The new website includes expanded information for interested home-sharers, as well as testimonials from ongoing matches.

“We love the new website,” notes Shepard. “It has a much more open and content-rich layout, which gives us more room to tell our story. New features like our inquiry form and staff profiles give us more avenues to get to know our prospective participants and vice versa.”

The new Home Match website is available here and is a great jumping off point to learn more about the program and how they support the community.