The number of people aged between 45 and 64 living on their own increased by 23% over the past decade. Although many people are choosing to live this way - for some it means they are at greater risk of social isolation.

The Lab are avoiding equating ageing with loneliness. Over 60% of young people say they are sometimes or often lonely. 

People living on their own, often with excess space, and people looking for a home or a flatmate.

How can we combine them?

Homesharing is when an older person offers accommodation to a younger person at a reduced rate in exchange for some support with basic tasks such as shopping or gardening.

Cohousing is the development of private households with shared facilities that invoke a sense of community; older people can benefit from reduced levels of loneliness and isolation and increased levels of civic participation, while younger generations can also benefit in similar ways and through the provision of affordable housing.

Although schemes like these already operate internationally - these options are yet to make a significant mark on the UK housing landscape.

The use of shared accommodation in social housing is common. Sometimes a transient option - it lends itself to interim housing. Using hard to let or empty social housing can decrease the numbers of applicants on Local Authority waiting lists, alleviate overcrowding and decrease arrears accrued through the Bedroom tax. 

  • So what if we could reimagine shared accommodation as a genuinely attractive proposition?
  • What if we actually encouraged people to move in with a friend?
  • What if we could create the best of both worlds - you have roommates - but they are not roommates.

There are scores of reasons to talk yourselves out of doing something like this.

People may like the idea of living with others, until they actually move in and get frustrated by loud music or annoying neighbours. 

However with more people living alone , and benefit changes meaning landlords are going to have significant affordability challenges, this may be a future housing model we just have to explore. 

The first thing we agreed today in mapping out a potential test was to take the time to produce what it could look like. What would the scheme be and how could it work? Would it be run by Bromford or an Airbnb type platform? Would it be Airbnb itself?

It's important with concepts like this to explore the organisational appetite to invest in doing something very different. That's why we'll produce some quick and dirty prototypes and produce them for people to comment upon.