Art of Aging: Finding help for senior women facing homelessness

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As a single woman, Ann Marie Stout wanted a roommate to help share the bills.

As a single woman, Ann Marie Stout wanted a roommate to help share the bills.

"And from a safety point it's nice to have somebody here, and you know we're getting older, so you know there's health issues involved. So it's good knowing someone is here if something happens," said Stout.

And, Magdalina Jimenez, a Downingtown renter, needed a place to stay, "I was in a homeless shelter," she said.

The two were brought together by Home of the Sparrow, a Chester County non-profit that partners women who need housing with women who have an extra room that they'd like to rent.

Patricia McLennan is CEO OF PA Home of the Sparrow.

She said, "There's a population of women out there that we like to call pre-senior women. They're ages 50-65. They're too young to qualify for the benefits that senior women get, so we determined that there was a need there."

It is the only official shared housing program in the state of Pennsylvania.

Since it began in 2006, Home of the Sparrow has made 200 matches.

Director of programs at Home of the Sparrow Matrie Johnson said, "It's very important because this county, Chester County, is the most expensive county in Pennsylvania. So a lot of people can work here, they could have worked here all of their lives, but they cannot afford to continue to stay."

The program has proved so popular with older women that Home of the Sparrow is now renovating a home in Coatesville. When it's finished in July, it will house six pre-senior women.

"A lot of seniors, they want to stay here because their doctors are all here. Their family members are here. They have friends. So they build up a community and a network," said Johnson.

The shared housing program builds on that network, as roommates often become friends, in a relationship that eases the financial burden for both.

Stout said, "It's important for me to have a home for my children to come to, but it's important to me, I don't want to go pay rent somewhere. And it's nice to be able to share that with someone who can't have it otherwise."

Jimenez added, "I really don't know what I'd do without this program."

"It's just a win-win situation," added Stout.

For more senior programs, visit our Art of Aging section.

Related Topics:
healthart of agingseniorshousinghealthcheck
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