NYU to test out lodging scheme pairing students to senior citizens with spare rooms

New York City is known as one of the most expensive cities for students to live in, particularly due to skyrocketing rents for accommodation.

To ease the financial burden on their students, New York University is piloting a scheme in autumn 2017 to pair up students with elderly people who have spare rooms and need some extra income.

Likened to a “homestay” program, the scheme is projected to help students cut accommodation costs in half, which is estimated to be around US$14,000 a year.

The pilot will involve 10 mature juniors, seniors or grad students to see how well they’ll fit with the senior citizens.


Ellen Schall, chair of NYU’s Affordability Steering Committee, told the Guardian: “This is a creative way of tackling [the] issue.

“It occurred to us that there are lots of New York City families whose children have grown up and moved away and they’ve got an extra bedroom and maybe they are struggling financially. We hope this will be a way of helping the needs of two very different populations.”

NYU is partnering up with University Settlement, a Lower East Side nonprofit that provides social services to low-income seniors, to get the program off the ground.

Also speaking to the paper, Eric Weingartner, the chief executive of University Settlement, said the organization would help identify suitable apartment buildings near the university that had a high proportion of older people so that students in the scheme would get rooms in different families’ apartments, but near enough to one another to retain some of the feeling of living in a dorm.


“This is an opportunity to help low- or fixed-income seniors, and help address the wider housing affordability crisis in New York City.

“There are people live in apartments with massive amounts of room no one really lives in, while other people struggle to afford anywhere to live,” he said.

According to Schall and Weingartner, both student and senior communities were excited to hear about the project and have already approached them to try and sign up to the scheme.


A similar housing program has been successful in Chicago for several years now, where students from various universities in the city were offered free private bedrooms in a senior facility in exchange for 20 hours a week doing light housekeeping, grocery shopping and giving computer lessons.

One of the students who took part in the program, Christina Larson, said that she found living with seniors more preferable to millennials.

“I lived with roommates my own age, and it wasn’t a positive living experience,” said the 29-year-old nursing student at the University of Illinois.

“Here everyone gets along. We watch a lot of ‘Star Trek’ together. Everyone is really laid back. The most important job I have is grocery shopping,” added Larson, as reported by the New York Post.


However, for the NYU scheme, students would not be required to work for their elderly housemates in exchange for their accommodation.

“You’re not a nurse, you’re not an aide, you’re not cleaning, you might help out with some technology or something,” Schall clarified, adding: “You might make a deal that you would make with any roommate – ‘If you take the trash out, I’ll order us a pizza.’”

Image via Shutterstock 

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