‘We can help make a change’: To help the housing shortage, current home owners are being asked to share

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — With a housing shortage this severe, no solution is off the table. Kootenai County is getting creative with housing solutions for families.

Home sharing is a form of renting used across the country. The Regional Housing and Growth Issues Partnership is ready to bring home sharing to North Idaho to help homeowners earn extra rent and fill a critical need for more affordable housing.

Local non-profits and senior centers in North Idaho will do the heavy lifting and will work to pair seniors, empty nesters and really anyone with a home that has extra space with people priced out of housing.

Members of the Regional Housing and Growth Issues Partnership know the housing issue won’t be fixed overnight, but they want to start offering solutions to help.

“It’s heartbreaking right now to see our locals being completely priced out,” said Kiki Miller. She’s a current Coeur d’Alene Council Member who founded the Regional Housing and Growth Issues Partnership.

Only 24% of people in Kootenai County say they can afford to buy a median priced home in Coeur d’Alene. Miller thinks home sharing can help.

“What you are able to do is feel safe and comfortable with the person that’s going to be matched to you and your home based on the needs and the restrictions you want to have on your property,” she added.

Current homeowners could rent out a spare room or unused space to someone priced out of housing but essential to the economy.

“We have a number of positions in very critical jobs in our county that aren’t able to be filled because the applicant can’t find a home here.”

According to The Housing and Affordability Study completed by researchers at the University of Idaho’s College of Business and Economics, there are 2,700 unfilled jobs in the county because of unaffordable housing.

Homesharing could be a fast fix for some, but it won’t turn the tide.

“Anything that can put people in housing is wonderful,” said Ryan Hughes, a contract city planner in North Idaho who’s also a planning consultant with international experience. “Economically and structurally, it’s not a long term fix for the lack of housing that we currently have.”

Kootenai County is short over 2,353 homes.

Hughes suggests local communities consider ordinance updates to ease the emergency:

1. Update zoning to allow for mixed use centers and higher density neighborhoods.

2. Update accessory dwelling unit standards, meaning people can use extra space on and around their home to create more housing.

All these solutions are a means to an end that eventually would enable renters to start buying homes themselves.

“We can help make a change,” Miller said.

You can sign up to receive more information and submit questions about getting involved in the new Homeshare program HERE. Miller says they hope to start pairing people for the new homeshare program in the next 90 days.

READ: ‘Completely priced out’: To help the housing shortage, current home owners are being asked to share

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