COLORADO SPRINGS — Finding affordable housing continues to be one of the city's biggest challenges. Mayor John Suthers helped build and support at least 1,000 new affordable housing units every year since 2018.
There are 768 units available for leasing in 2023, according to the city's Community Development Division. People who qualify pay less than 30% of rent and utility costs. The average rent of a two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment went up almost 7.5 percent from 2021 to 2022, according to the city's community development division.
People seeking affordable housing can live with a senior for reduced rent and other costs. In exchange, they offer support services like lawn mowing or friendship.
Sunshine Home Share of Colorado placed 10 people with seniors needing extra help in 2022. The non-profit mainly houses seniors with other seniors.
They aim to house more than 25 this year. People ages 55 and up struggle to find a place to live year after year.
"In Colorado Springs, they shut down about three senior apartment buildings, so they sold them and then the owners charge higher rent," said the Sunshine Home Share of Colorado program director Teresa Ornelas.
Kimberly Boulding suffers from severe muscle weakness, which make house chores and cooking hard to do. She opened her home to others needing a place to live.
"I'm blessed I have a house to share but I'm really blessed to have people here to share it with," said Boulding.
One of her housemates, John Vastine lived on the streets for about two years. Now, he helps with outdoor chores for reduced rent.
"If I didn't have this, it would be hard for me to get an apartment or anything like that because you can't afford it," said Vastine.
Another housemate, Mike McNeill, just needed a social lifestyle. He became a friend and found a support system.
"It's an answered prayer," said McNeill. "The family feeling is something I've yearned for years."
The three delegate house chores, meals and rent costs. They also enjoy doing puzzles together, playing with their dogs and going on walks.
Ornelas said the non-profit needs more house providers. There is a two-week trial for people ages 55 and up who want to try with housemates.
"We could really address the homelessness for seniors," said Boulding.
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