Number of seniors with roommates on the rise

Published: Jan. 14, 2020 at 3:08 PM EST
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More than 33 percent of Americans age 65 and over do not have any money saved for retirement. That's according to a survey from Go Banking Rates. Now some seniors are making ends meet by getting a roommate.

Since retiring about six years ago, Paul Covington has relied exclusively on Social Security without any savings. The 81-year-old needed help paying his mortgage, so Jim English, a perfect stranger, moved in. "We signed an agreement," English said. "So this was more of a formal process, which I liked a lot."

Reporter Jill Schlesinger: What were you nervous about at the time?

Paul Covington: Payin' my mortgage.

Jim English: I'm paying less than what I would if I was on my own by at least a few hundred.

This is part of a growing trend. In 2016, 70 percent more seniors lived with roommates than a decade before. After five months of English contributing to the mortgage and utilities, Covington was able to save $3,000.

Reporter Jill Schlesinger: With the money coming in, do you feel more comfortable?

Paul Covington: It's like a step into heaven, in terms of being relieved of, you know, the economic pressure.

Covington and English say the benefits go beyond their bank accounts. "It's nice to come in, you know, not to an empty place," English said. "I think people should be more in contact. And something like this would work for a lot of people. So, I would recommend it strongly.

"My daughter and my other two sons, very excited for me that I've got a roommate," Covington added.

There are organizations that will help pair people up. Covington and English used the nonprofit New York Foundation for Senior Citizens to make this match.

Experts say it's important to use a reputable organization to avoid scam artists, and roommates should make sure to sign a contract or lease.

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