President/Director Marion Strauss writes:
Working as an Occupational Therapist at a large hospital in a Department of Psychiatry, I often saw the placement "disposition" of elderly and/or disabled individuals who entered the hospital because of severe depression, as indefinite placement at a Nursing Home. These homeowners usually entered the hospital with symptoms including any or all of the following: not eating properly, not sleeping well, not keeping the house clean when they had previously done so, not being able to enjoy life anymore, and with extreme loneliness. I strongly felt that, when there was no dementia, such individuals, who would have liked to return to their own homes, should have been allowed to go home. Symptoms leading to their hospitalization often related to the loss of a spouse, a recent stroke, having become newly blind, or some other bodily insult, such as a recent amputation, severe arthritis or Parkinsonism. Sometimes the individual had suicidal thoughts. On the other side, we had the potential homeseeker, a person who was situationally depressed, who had recently lost a job, or who knows that, for some reason, he or she will not be able to pay the next month's rent. It seemed logical to try to "match" these two types of individuals.
The homeowner provides room and board.
The homeseeker provides light housekeeping and companionship.
There is no money exchanged.
Shared Housing of New Orleans has been in existence since 1988. There is no other program like it in Louisiana. (We had to evacuate to different parts of Louisiana because of the 2005 hurricane. We are back in town now and welcome contributions.) We are a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization. We are a resource for hospitals, home health agencies and other service organizations for the elderly and disabled, and for agencies working for newly homeless or about to be homeless individuals. There is a very careful process of pre-screening and screening done by psychiatrically trained Registered Nurses. Police checks are done on all.
Homeseeker Ms. JV writes about her experience with Shared Housing of New Orleans:
Shared Housing was a life saver for me as a homeseeker when I had to find a safe place to live for a year. I cannot say enough about the professionalism of the staff. The people at Shared Housing aim to make a win-win agreement for the homeowner and the homeseeker. The arrangements are humane, fair and specific enough for people to feel that everyone is getting their needs met.