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Roommate Matching in the Age of Coronavirus

Deciding to make a change to your living situation is a big deal. It’s an even bigger deal during a pandemic.  Having a new roommate means navigating all of the normal subjects, with the addition of COVID-19 exposure. Those get-to-know-you conversations now include things like social distancing habits, group gathering expectations, and more.

Like many, Odd Couples Housing is adapting to a world with COVID-19. We modified our match meetings and created resources for our Seekers and Homeowners. We know that it’s never been more important to have a safe and comfortable place to call home. So, amidst all the changes, we have been thrilled to continue to make roommate matches!

After the start of the pandemic, some of our Seekers and Homeowners chose to put their housing searches on a temporary hold.  Others were eager to start their homesharing journey and opted to forge ahead with their search, while taking precautions to keep themselves and their match as safe as possible.

Meet a Roommate Match

Betsy is one Homeowner who joined Odd Couples Housing during the pandemic. She signed up in August 2020 and was excited to find a housing match. She had students live with her in the past and wanted to open her home to help others, especially during these unprecedented times. Living alone, Betsy missed having company around the house, especially since her other social activities were limited. She says, “I really like having the sounds of someone else’s footsteps in the home…I just find it comforting. It’s really nice, especially as we go into the winter with COVID.”

Ndina, a Seeker who signed up around the same time as Betsy, was looking for “a change of scenery and a change of pace” from her living situation. As an international student, affordability was important to her and when she learned about Odd Couples Housing, she was immediately interested. “I like the idea that it wasn’t rent. You get to stay in a home, you get to meet someone, and I thought that was great,” Ndina remembers.

Coronavirus Concerns

Betsy and Ndina matched on the Odd Couples Housing website and when they met, the two connected right away. Both felt excited to finalize the details of their arrangement and start living together, but they wanted to be as safe as possible. Betsy recalls, “I was cautious, and I requested that both of us get COVID tested before I would let her move in.” Ndina was relieved that Betsy had brought up the topic that was on both of their minds, “I appreciated that [she] thought of it and communicated that to me so I didn’t have to wonder, should I get a test? Is she being safe?

In addition to testing, Betsy and Ndina also set clear expectations about their needs and preferences when it came to COVID-19 safety. Now that the pair is living together, they are upfront about any concerns they have and openly communicate about their activities. “We discussed a lot, where are you going? Who are you around? I think our values are aligned on that,” Betsy shares. Ndina agrees, “We are both being sensitive and trying to be safe.”

A Promising Pair

Betsy and Ndina are having a great time getting to know each other and we couldn’t be happier for them! The two enjoy watching movies and running errands together and support each other around the house. And Betsy is thrilled that Ndina doesn’t mind taking out the trash, which is her least favorite chore! Despite the pandemic, the two found safe ways to connect and establish a happy life together.

They are a great example of a roommate pair that is communicating clearly and watching out for each other. As Betsy says, “We can’t control the whole world but I think we’re both doing everything we can to make sure we stay safe.”

Odd Couples Housing encourages all roommate pairs to have open conversations about their coronavirus related concerns and preferences and stay informed about COVID-related health guidance. For COVID-19 considerations for roommates, click here. You may also be interested in these resources specifically for Homeowners and college students.

 

 

Intergenerational Camaraderie in Challenging Times

Lately, much of the media coverage around the coronavirus seems to pit generations against each other. While it may be tempting to point fingers or get swept up in these stories of millenials vs. boomers, old vs. young or us vs. them, these lines of thinking aren’t accurate or constructive. And, they make it difficult to bring generations together to do productive things like problem-solve and provide mutual support.

The coronavirus affects all of us, regardless of age, and now is an important time to come together.

At Odd Couples Housing, nothing makes us smile more than people in different life stages teaming up to support each other. It’s what inspires us and our roommate matches! We’ve spoken to a few of our matches this week, and they’ve been happy to have some company while sheltering in place at home. Hearing from them was a bright spot in our week!

What are the bright spots in your week? How are you keeping your spirits up?  If you need to hear some good news, we have some inspiring stories about people of all ages stepping up to help their community and cheer up their loved ones!

  1. Feeling antsy inside your house? Check out this young girl and her grandfather enjoying a socially-distant dance competition.
  1. Jayde Powell, a college student in Nevada, saw a gap in access to grocery delivery services among elderly residents in her community. She devised a plan to meet their needs. Danny Goldberg, a California high-schooler, had a similar idea and created an online platform where older adults can send their grocery orders to a volunteer delivery team.

  1. Celebrating special occasions can be hard when we can’t be physically together. Despite the distance, this family was able to celebrate their grandma’s 100th birthday!
  1. Dr. Jane Bedell had only been retired a few weeks when the coronavirus pandemic reached New York. Since then, she has put her plans to travel, and visit family on hold and is preparing to go back to work. She is one of the thousands of retired healthcare workers returning to the workforce to combat Covid-19.

  1. These 91 year-old twin sisters are quarantining together in their San Diego apartment–and finding ways to have some fun! Check out the daily pep rally they host for their retirement community from their balcony.

  1. Ali Jaffe is self-quarantining in New York and her grandma, Roslyn, is doing the same in Florida. But that’s not stopping Ali from learning her grandma’s favorite recipes–which are full of surprises–virtually! Listen to Ali and Roslyn’s story here.

Although we’re in complicated and challenging times, we are inspired by people coming together across generations to support each other. We hope you stay safe and healthy, and we’ll be on the look out for other good stories to share.

Coronavirus and Older Adults: What Resources Are Available

Like many companies that work with older adults and college students in America, we’ve been watching the coronavirus situation as it evolves. We understand that COVID-19 could have vast impacts and we are taking current circumstances seriously. We are paying particular attention to the ways COVID-19 could affect the people we most often work with: students and senior communities.

You probably know that many colleges and universities have closed due to COVID-19. As you might imagine, this created a challenging situation for many students. In a previous blog, we highlighted some go-to resources specifically for college students. The main concern is that many students–especially international students–were asked to leave their on-campus housing and don’t have a place to go. Times of crisis remind us of just how critical it is to support one another during challenging periods. For this reason, we are so impressed by several of our homeowners who stepped up to help by offering rooms in their homes for displaced students. Thank you! 

At Odd Couples Housing, we do our best to put older generations and students at the heart of everything we do. Because of this, we want to make sure you are staying up to date on news about coronavirus. When it comes to the coronavirus, things have been changing quickly, and we want to make sure you are aware of your resources and prepared, in case it touches your community. Moreover, we want to share some coronavirus-related initiatives and a few tips to help you stay connected.

First and most importantly, please be sure to follow reliable sources that have up-to-date guidance such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just to mention a few. We also encourage you to vigilantly follow guidelines from public health officials and to continue to monitor news from local authorities. A lot of experts are sharing information about COVID-19, so be sure to read their tips and advice on how people can protect themselves.

Secondly, we recommend that you consider using social media. Whether you’re a regular user or new to social media platforms, now is a great time to engage online. There are a lot of helpful social media platforms that have brought different groups of people together. You might try a Facebook group or app. Some pages and groups were created with the intention of sharing news updates, some are helping educate people, and some just want to connect people for socializing purposes. There are also pages that focus on local volunteer opportunities that you could use to both provide and receive support.

One great Facebook group matches people wanting to help others with those needing help during the coronavirus pandemic.  Although the page cannot guarantee that everyone’s needs will be met, it has “brought people together as a community and hopes that this allows positive things to happen.” Anyone needing help can fill out this form

Thirdly, since older adults have an increased risk of having serious COVID-19 related health concerns, (and some areas have stay-at-home orders) many people are concerned about going to the pharmacy to get medication. Thankfully, Walgreens and CVS have offered to deliver people’s prescriptions or complete essential online order with no delivery fee. Read more here. Furthermore, the two pharmacies mentioned above and Walmart will also loan their space for coronavirus tests.

Last but not least, it is understandable that those most at risk of contracting COVID-19 would be cautious about entering public spaces during this time. This makes it difficult to complete daily tasks, like buying food. Thankfully, many grocery store chains and other retailers have delivery options. Others are also setting aside certain hours exclusively for older adults to shop. The stores offering these special hours include Whole Foods, Target, Schnucks, and Dollar General, just to mention a few.

Lastly, here are just a few more resources for seniors in the  St.Louis area who might need meals, transportation, and any other help. If you need food but can’t afford it contact St.Louis Food Bank and St. Louis Area Agency on Aging. The St. Louis Area Agency on Aging does not just deliver meals but also provides transportation like Aging Ahead.

We also encourage you to take care of yourself and don’t become too isolated. Call a family member, email an old friend, or learn to text or video chat to stay in touch! Try to keep to your normal routine as much as possible, even if your activities have changed. This means keeping up with your usual wake-up, sleep, and mealtime routines. Also, challenge yourself to do some kind of movement every day. Staying connected, engaged and active can help you adjust to the many changes happening in the world.

In conclusion, we want you to know that there are resources available to support you during this challenging time. It is a weird time for all of us, but we are confident that we will get through this together! Our thoughts are with all of you and we hope you’re safe and healthy. Take care of yourselves and each other, and please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.