Shared Housing as Pathway Out of Homelessness

By Rebecca Nussbaum, CRC Chief Program Officer

The Housing Shortage in the US

The United States is currently 7 million affordable housing units short of what it needs to address the urgent need for affordable housing for our low-income community members.  Unfortunately, with the pace of building and development, we are years away from that solving that problem. 

ABC news reported last week that San Diego County residents who sign up for subsidized housing waited an average of 18 years for placement making it the longest average wait time for public housing in any large U.S. metropolitan area.  Folks who are unsheltered don’t have 18 years.  They need housing now. 

That is why implementing shared housing as a homelessness solutions strategy is so important.  It offers a potential solution by providing temporary or long-term housing options for individuals who are experiencing homelessness. Shared housing is exactly as it sounds, housing that is shared by more than one individual.  Over my lifetime, I have had several roommates, and housemates, and now share my house with my husband and three children. 

Two women sitting together

Benefits of Shared Housing

  • Affordability: Shared housing makes the cost of living more affordable by splitting the costs of rent, utilities, and household expenses. 
  • Availability: It also maximizes the scarce resource of housing that we have locally. 
  • Social Support: Living with others can help reduce isolation, improve mental well-being, and offers a sense of community. It also provides healthy opportunities for shared responsibilities and mutual support among housemates.
  • Stability and Transition: Shared housing can also be a good transitional solution and provide a stable living arrangement while they work towards independent housing.

Shared Housing – One More Pathway Out of Homelessness

Hand holding small house

CRC is taking proactive steps in addressing the housing needs of unsheltered individuals and families that CRC works with every day. We’re joining in a newly formed Shared Housing Learning Collaborative to hone, implement, and incorporate shared housing to provide stable and sustainable housing solutions. 

While shared housing has several advantages, it is important to consider the specific needs and preferences of each person and provide support for their specific circumstances. Individualized assistance and ongoing support are essential when implementing shared housing programs as part of a comprehensive strategy to address homelessness. This is why the case management model that CRC employs with each client is a vital element to help ensure successfully shared housing arrangements.

The model includes individuals that would have their own private rooms with their own lease that can be matched through a tool modeled after the systems that college dorms have used for years.  Paired with landlord engagement and housemate and housing support, CRC can use shared housing as another tool to expand housing options for the folks that we work with.  At CRC we believe that everyone deserves to be housed and have a place to call home.  By incorporating shared housing as a strategy, CRC can offer one more pathway out of homelessness.   

If you have a unit, granny flat, or extra room that you would like to rent out to generate extra income, please reach out to CRC’s Housing Coordinator Ruth Andzaldo at or 760-270-9852.

For more information on shared housing please see the Shared Housing Institute.