Big Midtown homes are candidates for HomeSharing program

Adele Korth wanted to keep her large home after her children moved out. She is able to do so by homesharing with Heather Croxton and another renter.

Midtown is rich with large old homes that can be a challenge to maintain and keep as people age, but there is a program to help.

It is the HomeSharing program run by Westport Cooperative Services, which merged with the Shepard’s Center of Kansas City earlier this year.  HomeSharing’s mission: match people who need low-income housing with those who can provide a private bedroom in exchange for rent, assistance or both.

“Most of our homeowners are older adults,” said program director Bill Thebo. “We’re trying to help them stay in their homes.”

The program operates in Jackson, Platte and Clay counties in Missouri and in Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas.

Each match is different, Thebo said.

Adele Korth, 83, lives in a large house in Leawood by herself but has taken in home share people for decades.

“I had to justify keeping this big home (after her children moved out),” she said, “and I like the company.”

Heather Croxton, who lives there in an upstairs bedroom, is one of her two renters now.

“It was more economical to live here than to have an apartment,” Croxton said. She just graduated from Johnson County Community College and said Korth might be twice her age but is more active than she is.

But Croxton said she had lived with a home share couple whose health declined to the point that they needed professional care.

Thebo said the program screens the parties who apply and introduces them to each other. If they want, the renter moves in for a trial period of a few days.

If that works out, they sign a non-binding contract defining terms of the deal, such as chores that will be done and rent.

The program started in 1982 when a teacher at Penn Valley Community College used it to get students places to live. In more recent years, the recession changed that focus. What used to be 80 percent student renters and 20 percent adults shifted to 80 percent adult renters.

There are about fifty home sharing programs in the United States, but this is the only in Kansas and Missouri, Thebo said.

He added they generally do about 30 matches a year, and renters generally get a place for about $200 less than an apartment.

The homeowners generally get $350 or more in rent and often help with house chores or other work.

Those interested in applying for the program or working as volunteers for it can call 816-753-7039.