In Barrie, Ontario, Cash-Strapped Students May Buy Housing With Chores

a small town appearance city center in winter, a modern clock tower in background
Ross Street, Barrie photo by Sean Marshall is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
Barrie, Ontario is looking at ways to house students in this high rent community close to world-class unaffordable Toronto.

Social housing removes homes from the free market and so can provide an ongoing guarantee of truly affordable housing for low income and no income citizens. Unfortunately, there are few free market alternatives that provide such significant quantities of truly affordable housing.

One of these alternatives has been an important housing standby quite probably since the dawn of civilization: co-living.

At its extreme, co-living in free market rental housing provided necessary affordable shelter for even the lowest incomes in times of scarce housing and high rents. ‘Hot sheet’ rentals historically packed even more into co-living shelter when workers on different shifts share the same bed.

Extremes aside, co-living can provide quite civilized but still truly affordable housing when two or more people find they have income or resources to contribute to shared accommodation.

An intriguing experiment is underway in Barrie, Ontario, Canada, where that city and a local community college have combined to support a student/retiree co-living experiment.

A handful of Barrie’s homeowners are capitalizing on their most important possession — a home — in order to fund cost-of-living expenses by renting out rooms to out-of town students.

The Barrie experiment adds a wrinkle to sharing resources between young and old: mitigating the rent for students by exchanging it with physical and social support for the homeowner.

Read more in BARRIE TODAY: Mayor’s office, college team up for ‘social impact project’ to address affordable housing