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  • Gayle Baker

Learning Lots about the Wonders of HomeSharing

June 21

A small group gathered to welcome Max Baron-Veale, Salt Spring’s Housing NOW Coordinator and to learn about HomeSharing. After Max’s moving Territorial Acknowledgement, we each took a few moments to introduce ourselves, most adding the Indigenous-like acknowledgement of our parents and roots. Max then told us what “excited and delighted” him. On his mind was his imminent departure for his first ever jujitsu competition. Clearly a gentle soul, he was a bit nonplussed by the combative aspects of his newfound sport. Professionally, he is very excited about the potential of HomeSharing on Salt Spring, anxious to further explore its as one of many needed solutions to our housing crisis. And, yes, he almost forgot to tell us: He will become a father in August!


Housing NOW (https://www.sgicommunityresources.ca/housing-now-home/) began as a project of the Southern Gulf Islands Resource Centre, initially largely-funded by their Economic Sustainability Commission. Expansion of this program to include Salt Spring came with funding from the regionally-oriented Southern Gulf Islands Tourism Partnership- SGITP (https://southerngulfislands.com/about-us/_. Funded from the 2% accommodations tax, this organization initially focused largely on regional marketing. Recently, though, a significant portion of the SGITP revenue is being committed to housing solutions, including Housing NOW and the CRD Rural Housing Program.


Housing Now, functioning for some years in the Southern Gulf Islands, has only recently been expanded to Salt Spring with Max recently hired to both bring its Registry to us but to also help design a “Made in Salt Spring” HomeSharing project. Max’s main focus will be upon getting potential home sharers, both those needing accommodations as well as homeowners, registered and matched.


We learned that there are 1,590 homes on Salt Spring that are occupied by one person. If even a small portion of these homeowners decided to share their extra space, large numbers of our workers could be accommodated. Max’s first priority is to pass the word so that, even if many decide not to share their home, most on Salt Spring at least know that this program exits to help others navigate this intriguing housing option.


Max will soon make a presentation to the Fulford Senior Centre, a group that is excited about the potential of HomeSharing to make it possible for seniors to stay in their home longer. We learned that many seniors are challenged financially; others need help. HomeSharing offers customized agreements detailing the rent and/or services, like errands, lawn care, housekeeping, or even personal care, required of those sharing a home.


While Max sees great HomeSharing potential for seniors and will work with local Salt Spring organizations to make sure as many seniors on Salt Spring as possible know about this program, homeowners need not be seniors to share their home. A wide variety of folks with extra space in their home could benefit from HomeSharing.


One of the most central services the Housing NOW HomeSharing program is the meticulous matching of homeowners and those seeking homes with every step of the process agreed upon by all parties. This begins with the set of criteria identified by the homeowner. Max told us that these criteria can be tailored specifically by the homeowner, requiring a certain age range, gender, or even the possession (or not) of pets. These criteria drive the customized agreement for each HomeSharing relationship. We learned that these agreements are remarkably detailed, often addressing circumstances that Max, having co-lived for many years, had never even considered.


So who is registering to rent? The list is growing everyday and includes:

  • Single mothers with small children who are working or returning to work,

  • Professional childless couples who are essential service workers in our community,

  • University students with excellent seasonal employment records here,

  • Artists who are self employed and looking to put down roots on Salt Spring, and

  • the list grows daily. . . .


With a list of those needing homes on Salt Spring 10 times as long as those willing to offer their homes, Max has a big job ahead of him getting HomeSharing information widely shared among homeowners. Later in the conversation, we asked what we can do to help. The reply was “Pass the word!” For some, that may be just talking to friends. While you may not want to share your home, it is likely someone in your circle of friends could benefit from more income or help with work that has simply become too difficult to accomplish alone. HomeSharing may be their answer.


While a great idea as one small, but important, step toward addressing our housing crisis, HomeSharing brings it own set of complexities. Despite meticulous matching of HomeSharers and a detailed agreement signed by all, what happens if things go awry? Housing NOW is planning to employ circling, peace talks, and Restorative Justice strategies to address and facilitate communication breakdowns as well as potential conflict. Those involved with this exciting new program are fully prepared to offer the interpersonal resources needed to address issues as they arise and resolve them before they escalate.


Admittedly, HomeSharing is driven by the needs of the homeowner, offering them a degree of safety and security not as available in the rental market; Conversely, the longterm tenure of those moving into someone else’s home could, depending upon circumstances. potentially be less than that of a normal rental agreement.


Will HomeSharers be subject to the Residential Tenancy Act - RTA- (https://www.bclaws.gov.bc.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/00_02078_01), believed by many to be a significant reason many Salt  Springers are reluctant to rent? HomeSharing is different from renting. HomeSharing is based on the premise that a home is actually being shared, with, for example, common use of a kitchen. The actual language of the RTA act reads: “This Act does not apply to . . . living accommodation in which the tenant shares bathroom or kitchen facilities with the owner of that accommodation. . . .


An entirely separate living unit would be characterized as renting rather than HomeSharing. So, if you have a separated unit with its own kitchen - and no intention to co-live with the individual in your home - you are likely to be a landlord rather than a home sharer, bound by Rental Tenancy Act rules. It is this separation that is the key consideration that distinguishes renters/landlords from HomeSharers. While it is understood that a renter that never sees the landlord would not be considered a HomeSharer, there is admittedly some grey area in this determination. In a typical case in which a kitchen is shared, a Licence to Occupy is used for legal protection in addition to the co-signed agreement.


While Salt Spring’s HomeSharing program is new and expected to change as it expands, there are many existing HomeSharing models. Currently, nearby, Pender, Mayne, and Saturna have successful programs underway with more than 20 HomeShare relationships in place. And, a bit farther afield, HomeSharing is successful in many communities around the world, including the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and the Unites States. To access and learn from their experiences, our Housing NOW program has just joined HomeShare International (https://homeshare.org/).


Max will work hard to pass the word about our New HomeSharing program, matching those interested, customizing agreements. He will have the tools and resources to support HomeSharers who need to address issues. But, Max also knows that our HomeSharing initiative must address that very basic need for community balanced by the fear of being close to one another. Max, an experienced HomeSharer, well understands the messiness that can occur when individuals share space. “What about those dishes? I hate that music! I don’t feel like cutting the lawn.”


Max is convinced that the closeness that develops by those who share far outweighs the challenges of sharing one’s space. A Salt Spring that some characterize as divided and isolated, Max sees this sharing option as far more than an admitted “bandaid" to our housing crisis: He sees it as an option to nurture ourselves through intimate community connections rather than continuing our current isolation. He spoke briefly of the shock COVID brought to many who were forced into isolation, totally-unprepared for the loneliness it brought. It is Max’s hope that, as we face the crises ahead, learning how to share our space and develop deep relationships will make us stronger.


As we prepared to wish Max “farewell" for now, we knew so much more about the possibilities of HomeSharing. Recognizing that the issues remain complex - “Will I have enough water to share my home? Am I protected if neighbours complain? And?” we expressed our appreciation of Max’s hard work, experience as a committed HomeSharer, enthusiasm for better using our housing resources, and deep commitment to a more connected community. Bidding a fond farewell to this young man, we promised to let friends know about this exciting new Salt Spring program. (Thanks, Max!)


NOTE: As a result of this ASK Salt Spring gathering, we believe we have identified some homeowners who would like to further explore sharing. Small steps, important progress. Interested? Contact Max at housingnowssi@sgicommunityresources.ca.



Do you know all that you want to know about the Chuan Society (https://www.facebook.com/chuansociety/)? If the answer is “No,” this is your opportunity to learn more about the many things this dedicated group of volunteers are doing to help those on Salt Spring - as well as future plans to do even more.


Please join us to welcome Kajin Goh and other Chuan Society Directors this Friday, June 28, 11-1, in the SIMS (former Middle School) classroom next to the Boardroom.


What would you like to ask them?

  • What do you see as the Chuan Society’s proudest accomplishment this year?

  • What are the challenges facing this society?

  • What would you like to accomplish by the end of 2025?

  • What do you need to help even more Salt Springers?

  • And?


Please join us Friday to welcome Kajin and other Chuan Directors!


Just in case you are interested. . . .This report has been written by Gayle Baker, Ph. D., founder of ASK Salt Spring, currently also a Salt Spring Local Community Commissioner. This report has also been edited by this week’s special guest.



Want to help? We welcome volunteers to join the team.

Please join us making ASK Salt Spring ever better!


Big News:

ASK Salt Spring now has ongoing funding! A heartfelt THANK-YOU to the Institute for Sustainability, Education, and Action (I-SEA) and its Executive Director, Peter Allen !!!


***New fundraising option***

You can now give the Return It change you earn from your bottles to ASK Salt Spring: Account #230.


Any questions, anytime: ask@asksaltspring.com


Want to see reports from all the ASK Salt Spring gatherings, and

monthly schedule of upcoming gatherings? Asksaltspring.com.


Want to listen to interviews of our special guests?ASK Salt Spring Answered


Want to help? ASK Salt Spring now has a Save-a-Tape box at Country Grocer.

We love your receipts! Remember: #15


Our Partners. . . .

Institute for Sustainability, Education, and Action (I-SEA), Country Grocer through Save-a-Tape and Gift Cards and Island Savings' Simple Generosity grant.

A heartfelt Thank-You!


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