Living With Strangers

One solution to the housing crisis: get boarders to share the financial burden.

Oct. 24, 2008 — -- Normally, when people find strangers in their homes, they shriek and run the opposite direction.

But in today's trying economic times, there are a number of Americans who just yawn and say "good morning."

Across the nation, homeowners are looking for ways to keep their housing costs down, and one creative solution is taking in boarders -- strangers who live in the home and share the financial burden.

It has become so popular that in some areas services have been set up specifically to help connect those looking for rooms and those in need of housemates.

Employees at Housemate Match at the Marcus Jewish Community Center in suburban Atlanta said they have been swamped with requests since the economy took a downturn.

"I can remember this in 2005, when we assisted with the Hurricane Katrina evacuees when they all came from New Orleans to Atlanta," said Housemate Match director Rita Zadoff. "It was similar."

So when people like Robert Amato, who lost his job, and Rhoda Burd, who lived alone in a house big enough for two, were able to find each other, life got easier for both.

Amato pays the rent when he can and provides company.

"If I have a dinner party, Robert's always there," Burd said, "barbecuing for me or something, you know, and now repainting the house."

"This is really great for me and great for him," she said.