Home Share program looks for perfect matches

Homeowner Ed Hine was 92 and wanted companionship and help with meal preparation. Mike, in his 40s, was looking for affordable rent and a more meaningful job where he could help people.
The two found each other through the Home Share Program offered by Covia, formally called Episcopal Senior Communities.

Home Share is just one of many services offered by Covia, a non-denominational, non-profit that has been delivering housing and services to people regardless of their religious affiliation for more than 50 years. It is a creative way to address two housing needs in the Bay Area: seniors who want to stay in their homes and the lack of affordable housing.

The program is open to all ages. Seniors who are living independently may be in need of companionship or someone to help with cooking or errands. Renters are often someone who can lend a hand in exchange for lower rent.

“It was a miracle match,” Mike said. “I told a pastor at Christ the King Church what I was looking for: a work trade for housing. He directed me to Home Share.”

At the same time, Ed’s son Jim read an article about the program. “It was exactly what I was looking for for my dad,” he said.

Max Moy-Borgen, director of the Contra Costa Home Share Program, facilitated the match. Moy-Borgen assists in filling out applications, interviews people to find out preferences, does background checks and draws up contracts.

“This is all done to minimize conflict down the road and ensure compatibility,” Moy-Borgen explained.

“They make sure everyone is comfortable, and it’s great they handle all the paperwork. He puts everything in writing,” Jim Hine said. “It couldn’t have worked out better for us.”

The Home Share Program of Contra Costa has matched three pairs since its inception about a year ago. A Marin County program has been in existence for four years, with 22 current matches and more than 100 people served. The program recently expanded into San Francisco, where six matches have been made.

Mike was homeless for 17 months prior to moving in with Ed in October 2017. He had suffered through a job loss, health problems and separation from his wife.

“We watched the World Series together and played cards together. We like the same card game – rummy,” Mike said. “I never had a grandfather. Ed told me stories about his time in the service. The family included me in the holidays. We didn’t agree on politics, but we got along great.”

For Mike, the nights were the hardest part of being homeless. “So it was great to have someone to come home to,” he reflected.

Ed died after only 3½ half months, but his son says his dad’s “peaceful exit” had a lot to do with Mike. “My dad loved Mike. Mike was a good cook, a good roommate and a good friend. He is now part of our family.”

Mike, a musician who plays at weddings and other gigs, wrote a song in tribute to Ed and played it at his funeral. “I’m lucky to have had a great 3½ months with Ed, some of the best months I’ve had in decades,” added Mike, who is working with Moy-Borgen to find a new match.

Moy-Borgen is grateful for the city of Concord for its help. “They are providing us with office space on Thursdays and Fridays at the Concord Senior Center. The Family Justice Center is also giving us space to help with outreach,” he noted.

For more information, contact Moy-Borgen by phone at 925-451-9890 or by email: mmoy-borgen@covia.org.

Covia is hosting a fundraising golf tournament May 21 at the Orinda Country Club. Visit www.covia.org for more information.