A More Affordable, Community-Focused Solution for BC’s Housing Crisis

Sharing Lives & Sharing Spaces: A Business Case for 'Chosen Family Pods'

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Nov. 07, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Streetohome is exploring ‘Chosen Family Pods’ – a shared housing model that promises to increase affordability and make housing accessible to individuals on a fixed or low income, including those at-risk for, and/or with lived experience of homelessness. Chosen Family Pods involve three or more individuals, who know each other, choosing to live together interdependently and share their spaces and their lives.

Chosen Family Pods provide a wide variety of benefits including social connection and support, physical and economic security, as well as reduced social isolation. Sharing household items contributes to a lower carbon footprint than living alone. Private bedrooms and communal common areas provide options to embrace or to limit social interaction according to changing preferences. Shared housing also enables individuals to remain in their neighbourhood despite rising unaffordable rents, or alternatively, choose to live in a nicer neighbourhood that they otherwise would be unable to afford.  

The model offers a more affordable housing choice for a wide variety of demographics, especially those with a low or fixed income, including youth, seniors, social assistance recipients, students, immigrants and refugees, and the low-income workforce. Not only can shared rental housing increase the limited rental supply stock and affordability, ultimately, it can increase the quality of life for those who choose to take advantage of its numerous benefits.

Streetohome compiled a business case to explore the benefits of shared housing for those living in BC. The work explores shared housing policy and practice in multiple jurisdictions in Canada and the United States. It also identifies outdated regulations regarding zoning and limiting the number of unrelated individuals that can live together as preventing it from being implemented. The business case concludes that provincial and municipal incentives can go a long way to ensuring that Chosen Family Pods get built. 

The business case outlines support for shared housing and recommendations for BC, including:

  • Enacting provincial legislation prohibiting municipalities from using local bylaws to prevent unrelated individuals from living together; 
  • Educating stakeholders on the benefits of sharing lives and sharing spaces, and changing the narrative around living together; and
  • Piloting shared housing models, accompanied by municipal and provincial incentives, to better meet the needs of landlords and many housemates across British Columbia. 

Download the business case here: http://www.streetohome.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/Chosen-Family-Pods-Business-Case-10-11-23-LR.pdf 


Alison Silgardo, CEO, Seniors Services Society of BC: “Shared housing would greatly benefit seniors. We see them become increasingly isolated, and lonely, and stressed due to ever-increasing rents. Shared housing promotes community and economic security while also providing an opportunity to remain in a familiar neighbourhood for those who are fixed or low income.”

Hani Lammam, Executive Vice President, Cressey Development Group: “We need government to champion shared housing. With the right regulatory framework, developers can create a housing model with private and communal spaces that protects tenants and ensures that they have options in neighbourhoods throughout BC while being affordable.”

Penny Gurstein, Professor Emeritus and former Director of the School of Community and Regional Planning, Co-Director of the Housing Research Collaborative, UBC: “The affordable housing crisis demands the immediate implementation of promising new directions for the provision of housing. Chosen Family Pods are an emerging shared housing concept that will have its place on the housing continuum. Housing researchers will be eager to monitor and evaluate the shared housing forms that are born out of this concept, the demographics served, and the impact on tenants, private rental market landlords, supportive housing providers, the development community, and cities.”

David Sander, Director, Hollyburn Properties Limited: “During the pandemic, I came to Streetohome asking how I can better make use of the empty apartments in our rental stock, while helping those in need. Those early discussions led to a model that promotes more affordable rentals, with social benefits and increased quality of life for those who choose to live in a Chosen Family Pod. I am now convinced that Chosen Family Pods is a new and important rung on the housing ladder.”

David Hutniak, CEO, Landlord BC: “As the rental market becomes increasingly unaffordable in many BC municipalities, for both landlord and tenant alike, shared housing promotes an attractive win-win alternative with increased revenue for landlords and more affordable rent for tenants. Shared housing promotes an efficient means to increase more affordable rental housing stock that’s appealing for seniors, students, low-income workers, and a wide variety of other demographics.”

Craig Watters, Chief Development Officer, Concert Properties Ltd.: “Building sufficient affordable rental housing requires a coordinated approach from all levels of government. Incentives, supportive zoning, and efficient approval processes, combined with a sense of urgency, are all necessary to facilitate the delivery of this critically needed housing in our communities.” 

Rob Turnbull, President & CEO, Streetohome Foundation: “Shared rental housing can contribute to a more cost-efficient social housing system. Social service agencies want to optimize their limited housing inventory and will proactively bring together Chosen Family Pods that can enjoy the numerous benefits of living together. This provides an option for tenants to move on with their lives, and their vacated social housing can serve the needs of individuals requiring intensive supports.”

Media Contact: 

Rob Turnbull  
Title President & CEO
Phone 604-629-2711 x102
Email robt@streetohome.org


Streetohome brokers the private sector into taking smart risks in integrating evidence-based models that fill gaps in current systems to meet the needs of individuals at risk for, and/or with lived experience of, homelessness.


Streetohome Foundation
525 Seymour Street, Suite 103
Vancouver, British Columbia