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Affordable-living solution program thriving after 30 years

Bronx Times
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With a tough economy and the cost of living rising, an affordable-living solution program is thriving more than ever.

Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, the New York Foundation for Senior Citizens program is still going strong in the Bronx and other boroughs. The program is a reliable solution to affordable housing and friendly companionship that allows seniors to stay in their homes and remain independent.

Since 1981, the program has paired over 2,000 people of all different ages, religions, gender, and ethnic backgrounds, and has helped these participants become more socially engaged through hew companionship and is beneficial financially.

In this home sharing program, “hosts” who have extra private bedrooms in their homes or apartments are matched with responsible and compatible “guests” who contribute financially in return for reduced or no cost housing expenses.

“The proof of our success is that we have many long-term and repeat participants as well as non-traditional matches who have been with us, in some cases, for over a decade,” said NYFSC president Linda Hoffman. “We have an excellent review process designed to carefully screen and interview potential hosts and guests. We also have an outstanding track record of creating beneficial matches based on mutual need.”

The process, which requires that either the guest of the host be over the age of 60, is flexible and allows for non-traditional alliances. Social workers screen all applicants, conduct in-depth interviews, and require at least three references.

After the screening process, social workers determine the most appropriate matches through a computer program designed to pair participants based on need and compatibility. Once a match is made, frequent follow-up services are provided for the pair.

Marie Vieux, who has been enrolled in NYFSC for almost nine years, decided to join the program because she was alone in a big home and felt that she needed company. The 71-year-old Kingsbridge resident has been sharing her home with 53-year-old Raphael Cruz and believes it has been a worthwhile experience.

“I had first learned about the program and thought it would be a great idea to be a part of,” Vieux said. “Raphael not only helps around the house, but he has become like a part of my family since he moved in. A lot of people would shy away from a program like this but I strongly recommend that anybody in need of help should certainly try it.”

The program, which has been endorsed and supported by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is considered widely as a practical economic solution for New York City homeowners and renters.

NYFSC is a free service for all. For more information, please call (212) 962-7559 or visit their website at www.nyfsc.org.

Reach Vito Signorile via e-mail at vsignorile@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383.

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