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A Toronto college is pairing international students with seniors to help ease the housing crunch

Toronto is a city that is growing and evolving rapidly. As more people move to the city, the demand for housing continues to rise, creating a severe shortage of affordable options. This has particularly affected seniors, who often struggle to find affordable housing and may experience isolation and loneliness.

In response to this challenge, Seneca College has launched an innovative program that addresses the housing crisis and the social isolation experienced by many seniors. The program pairs international students with seniors, providing the students with affordable housing in exchange for their assistance and companionship.

The program is a win-win for both the students and the seniors. For the students, it offers a much-needed solution to finding affordable housing in a city where rents continue to rise. For the seniors, it allows them to receive assistance with daily tasks and connect with people from different backgrounds and cultures.

The program has been inspired by a similar initiative in the Netherlands, where students live with seniors in exchange for reduced rent. This model has successfully addressed the housing crisis and promoted intergenerational understanding and support. The Seneca College program is the first of its kind in Canada. It can serve as a model for other cities and institutions looking to address similar challenges.

The program is open to Seneca College students worldwide, prioritizing those new to Canada and facing financial challenges. Seniors interested in participating in the program are matched with students based on shared interests and needs.

The benefits of the program extend beyond the students and seniors who participate. The program also has the potential to create a sense of connection and community within the larger neighborhood. By bringing together people from different backgrounds and generations, the program fosters understanding and appreciation for diversity.

The program's success depends on effective communication and support between the students and seniors. To help facilitate this, Seneca College provides training for the students on how to communicate with seniors and provide appropriate assistance. The college also has staff members available to provide ongoing support and mediation.

One of the program's challenges is matching students with seniors with compatible personalities and interests. The program uses a thorough matching process to address this, considering hobbies, interests, and living preferences. The program also encourages open communication between the students and seniors to ensure everyone's needs are met.

The program has received positive feedback from both the students and seniors who have participated. Many students have reported that they have gained valuable insights into the challenges faced by seniors and have developed meaningful relationships with their hosts. Seniors have reported feeling less isolated and more connected to their communities.

The program is still in its early stages, but it has the potential to significantly impact the housing crisis and social isolation in Toronto. The program promotes understanding and empathy by bringing together people from different backgrounds and generations, creating a more cohesive and inclusive community.

As cities worldwide grapple with the challenge of providing affordable housing while also addressing the needs of their aging populations, innovative solutions like the Seneca College program will be needed. The program exemplifies the creative thinking and collaborative spirit required to build a more equitable and sustainable future for all.