New program helps local seniors and grad students make home a little sweeter

By Judi Pattison, June 22, 2017

Hamilton seniors and McMaster graduate students are getting connected in a new way.

McMaster Symbiosis is a co-housing program that matches current graduate students in need of low-cost housing with local seniors who have a spare room and need some extra support.

The result? A relationship that reduces costs – and isolation – for both student and senior.

McMaster Symbiosis is the dream of Soumeya Abed, a McMaster postdoctoral fellow. Through Spices – a funding program focused on innovative ideas meant to help build graduate and postdoctoral community at McMaster – Abed joined forces with staff from the School of Graduate Studies and undergraduate student Swatie Maharaj. The group is reaching out to a number of local seniors’ groups and associations to help find great matches for the graduate students.

Who is eligible for the program?

  • Seniors who have a spare, furnished bedroom and would like a little extra income and/or some help around the house.
  • Current McMaster Masters and PhD students who are interested in a lower-rent, private room located in an established home. Opportunities for conversation at home are sure to help graduate students who would like to improve their spoken English skills.

The Symbiosis team will work with seniors and students, helping them identify and define their expectations. Following one-on-one interviews and a home visit, Symbiosis will match a senior with a student and coordinate a face-to-face meeting, giving both an opportunity to talk about expectations and decide if the program – and this match – is for them.

The pilot program aims to match five to 10 seniors with students this summer. Move-in happens in September, with the pilot coming to a close in May 2018. During the school year, the Symbiosis team hopes to organize social events where participants can share experiences and help to build the Symbiosis community.

Currently, Symbiosis is recruiting Hamilton seniors and students for the project. Please note that application to the program does not ensure that you will be part of the pilot program.

How do I apply to Symbiosis?

If you are a Hamilton senior interested in welcoming a graduate student into your home, or a current McMaster graduate student who would like more information about the program, please contact Soumeya Abed at 647-648-4421 or email her at symbiosiscohousing@gmail.com.

Also, you can find McMaster Symbiosis on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The Spices funding program is supported by and coordinated through the McMaster School of Graduate Studies.