Finding the right housemate can be difficult at the best of times, but with a disability it can be even harder.
But an ACT program is bringing disabled ’householders’ and some rent-saving tenants together in a win-win situation, which is changing lives.
Peter Rosini, 37, loves karaoke, acting and socialising. But a few months into his second stint living away from home, the intellectually disabled and epileptic Mr Rosini was lonely and looking for company. Constant calls meant his family’s telephone bill rose from $300 to $800 per month.
Then the Homeshare program introduced Slaven Kraljevic. In return for rent-free lodgings at the Duffy apartment, the 27-year-old agreed to provide 10 hours of assistance each week.
The two have become friends, spending time together watching movies, cooking and heading to The Irish Club for karaoke sessions (Mr Kraljevic assures me his performer housemate does all the singing).
Chores are shared, and Mr Kraljevic keeps an eye on his housemate when he is cooking, but he said most of the role was common sense after living out of home for five years.
“Before I moved in with Peter, I didn’t know what to expect, it was kind of just go by feel.”
“Pete’s very good to hang out with, very agreeable, no dramas so far - I’ve been with different kinds of people and Pete’s really organised, he’s tidy, very sociable.”
“I can’t say I see any big differences I have to watch out for, the only difference is I have to be aware of his needs.”
Mr Rosini has enjoyed the independence and friendship of the past three months, and has – with apparent relish – told his mother Maria of the benefits of his freedom.
“Mum, I love living independently, it means I don’t have you nagging me,” he told her last week.
Mrs Rosini said he was proud of the way her son had grown up since moving this year.
“It’s the best thing for Pete that’s ever happened in an independence sense – not only independence but inclusion, because he’s meeting some of Slaven’s friends, Slaven’s meeting some of his friends out of karaoke,” she said.
“Peter has come out of his shell a lot in the last six months, he’s had to learn to defend himself, he’s had to learn to make sound decisions – some decisions he’s made haven’t been realistic ones – but he’s learnt from those and hopefully they’ve made him a lot more mature in that area.”
Homeshare has been a success since its launch across the ACT earlier this year by the Community Connections disability support organisation, who find and introduce compatible people aged in their 20s to their 60s.
Homeshare manager Lee Harrison said there had been 12 pairings who had signed agreements, with Housing ACT providing three properties – where homesharers live rent free – and real savings for those helping in the nine private residences.
“Generally [private] rent is in the $70-$100 per week range,” Mr Harrison said.
Mr Harrison said eight of the original pairs remained living together, with another two disabled householders in new pairs and one other looking for a tenant.
“The best homeshares work where it does become an informal mateship, so nobody’s clock-watching.”
Community Connections are running a free seminar on the Homeshare program at the Hyatt Hotel from 2pm on Thursday, including a Q&A session.