Nesterly connects young people to homes with elders

Brenda lives in Roxbury, Massachusetts, with visiting MA with PhD in architecture student Phoebus from Greece. (Image courtesy of Gary Battiston of the City of Boston.)

Noelle Marcus, co-founder of the Nesterly platform, affirmed the benefits of intergenerational social interactions and living situations at the Massachusetts Gerontology Association’s Fall Policy Forum, held on Nov. 28. The “Massachusetts for All Ages: Building Community Across Generations” conference focused on inclusivity and age integration.

Nesterly is an online program that pairs older residents, or “empty nesters,” with spare bedrooms in their houses, with millennial students in need of affordable housing. The website takes advantage of existing infrastructure to provide younger people with reasonable rent prices in exchange for help with household chores and to better utilize unoccupied spaces. The platform facilitates connections between people of different generations, helping to combat isolation, as the population of people over 65 is expected to double by 2050, according to Nesterly. With more than 3.6 million rooms in the United States being unoccupied, students can save up to $24,000 per year.

“We took this age-old concept of intergenerational home sharing and are trying to bring it into the digital age,” Marcus said. “People hear of housing options usually through word of mouth or through Craigslist, but that’s not usually an accessible medium. We’re helping people stay in their homes longer, which is enabling greater neighborhood stability.”

Nesterly and Boston’s Intergenerational Homeshare Pilot is running from September through December. It has had eight successful matches so far. In addition, Nesterly vets users who join the network, asking for identity verifications, as well as background and reference checks, making it more trustworthy than other platforms.

“Our goal is to get as many hosts and active rooms on-site as possible,” Marcus said. “We want to create as much information and transparency as possible for hosts to make informed decisions.”

The intergenerational housing model has been implemented internationally as well, with the ESDES Services Inter-Generations in Lyon, France pairing seniors and students in living situations since 2004. Students are selected through an interview with the organization and are matched with compatible elders.

In Boston, housing affordability remains a prevalent problem, as over half of renters and 36 percent of homeowners are spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing, according to a report from The Boston Foundation. Boston neighborhoods have experienced price appreciation, with home prices in South Boston and Jamaica Plain rising by 71 percent and 83 percent since 2005. Communities near Boston have seen home prices spike, with Cambridge homes rising in cost by 85 percent since 2005.

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Nesterly cofounders Noelle Marcus and Rachel Goor won the Community Resilience Prize at the NYC BigApps Grand Prize Winners Award Ceremony on May 23. (Image courtesy of Bekka Palmer.)

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