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"Sometimes, people primarily want to feel less lonely"

"Sometimes, people primarily want to feel less lonely"

Photographer:Fotograaf:

Loraine Bodewes

New project Homesharing

MAASTRICHT. Home sharing, those two words say it all: sharing a home. Students moving in with a landlady or landlord and in return for giving help they pay less rent. They cook, do the gardening, or walk the dog. Or they teach a new language. Connecting is the magic word.

According to project co-ordinator Hanna Hesemans, there don’t even need to always be specific tasks, such as ironing and washing or maintaining the vegetable patch. “Sometimes, people primarily want company, to feel less lonely. But we do draw the line at professional care. That is what other institutions are for.”
Home sharing is part of Match Maastricht. For years, the city of Maastricht and the university have been organising projects for students and other residents from the city to bring the two groups closer together. For example, there are students who carry out activities for the neighbourhood and in return pay less rent in a student house. Three of them started a project in Mariaberg last year, building a chicken coop together with other local residents; they are all responsible for the chickens and the maintenance of the coop, the eggs are for personal use.

Home sharing goes a step further. The student actually shares a home with a ‘Maastricht citizen’. Or a landlady or landlord, as Hesemans puts it. She already has three applicants. Anyone who thinks that it is mainly older divorced women or widows, should think again. “We have an older gentleman, a couple, and a young man in his thirties.”
Specifically: the students receive 150 euro per month reduction on rent and ‘work’ there for a minimum of seven hours per week. “We keep an eye on things. We visit once every two months to have a chat.”

To prevent all and sundry registering just to live ‘as cheaply as possible’ (and otherwise not making an effort), the organisation applies a strict selection procedure. “You want students who are intrinsically motivated, who feel socially involved.” They are subjected to two interviews. And no, the landlady or landlord is not present. They make a choice later on, based on a profile.
Six students, from the Netherlands and abroad, are interested at the moment, says Hesemans. They are not hesitant because of COVID-19? “No, apparently they really want to live in Maastricht, even though education is online for the time being.” Hesemans expects the first home sharers this spring.

To financially support the Homesharing project, a crowdfunding campaign has been launched on the UM platform: https://www.umcrowd.nl/project/give-to-less-loneliness

 

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