Change is happening everywhere. The pandemic is altering lifestyles, housing and economic realities for millions of Americans. Where we can bounce back, fortunately, we’re doing it. Work from home? Used to it. Zoom calls all day? We’re pros. Elbow bumps in lieu of handshakes? A little awkward, but doable. It might not always be pleasant, but we’re adapting.
While we adjust on a personal level, whole industries are being forced to change, too. Like retail and healthcare, housing is caught in a whirlwind and ripe for disruption. More than ever, people need stable, affordable places to live—places that somehow minimize their risk of exposure to the virus without isolating them from other people. It seems like a tall order, but that’s where homesharing comes in.
Homesharing is not a novel concept. People have long kept lodgers, tenants and roommates. But technology-enabled homesharing is relatively new, and it’s poised to create a breakthrough.
In May 2020, we surveyed Silvernest users to understand why, in the height of a pandemic, they would be interested in homesharing. Their responses confirmed what we suspected to be true: homesharing addresses some of society’s thorniest problems—financial insecurity, social isolation and the housing crisis.
Near-Universal Economic Impact and the Ripple Effect on Housing
Economic fallout from the pandemic will adversely affect Americans at all income levels—especially those outside of the wealthiest 10%—for years to come. In 2018, four in ten U.S. adults said they’d have difficulty covering a hypothetical $400 expense. Fast-forward to today, and our financial position has only gotten shakier. In a June 2020 report from NerdWallet and The Harris Poll, nearly 70% of respondents said their household income had been negatively affected by COVID-19—including 80% of Millennial and Gen Z respondents.
After surveying renters and homeowners about the impact of COVID-19 since April of 2020, Apartment List found “widespread and growing concern about housing insecurity,” fears of eviction among renters and the specter of foreclosure among homeowners. According to Bankrate’s Chief Financial Analyst Greg McBride, “This year may see the worst for unemployment, but 2021 will likely bring the worst for mortgage delinquencies and defaults.”
As with health, older Americans are at higher economic risk associated with coronavirus. The National Council on Aging and The LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston warned that “financial hardships created by the COVID-19 pandemic will push between 1.4 and 2.1 million more older Americans into poverty.”
Isolation: Now We’ve All Felt It
Social distancing and shelter-in-place orders have given us all a taste of social isolation and loneliness. We’ve been cut off from our friends, families, communities and routines. Our sense of certainty—unfounded as it may have been—has disappeared. Depression and anxiety are on the rise. Mental health apps like Calm and Better Help are seeing runaway growth. We’re collectively mourning our familiar ways of life.
In our survey of Silvernest users, 91% reported that COVID-19 had a moderate to high impact on their level of social connectivity. In another survey from social skills training site SocialPro, one in three respondents reported feeling lonelier because of coronavirus—with 70% more Millennials than Boomers reporting this “coronavirus loneliness.”
After months of feeling anxious, powerless and vulnerable, it’s understandable that people are seeking safety, comfort and a sense of control wherever they can be found. For most of us, home is the logical place to maximize those feelings.
As Americans work to re-create stability and daily habits, we at Silvernest believe homesharing will play an even more important role than before. Our homes now serve as classrooms and offices, on top of their original functions. Almost a quarter of US adults (22%) have either moved due to the pandemic or know someone who has. It’s more important than ever to have a say in where—and with whom—we live.
Stay tuned! In a few weeks, we’ll be launching new features to make it even easier to find and screen housemate matches who share your approach to sanitizing the home, wearing a mask and other pandemic-related concerns.