Organization helps senior citizens find roommates in New York City

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Usually when you think of roommates you think of two young adults right out of college.

In New York City, expenses are so high, even senior citizens need roommates to make ends meet.

Bob Steele and Deirdre Channing have been living together for 9 months, but not in the way you might think. They're strictly roommates.

"The idea of having someone live with me, frankly, was not something I met with great pleasure," Steele said.

But the 81-year-old didn't have a lot of options. He lost his vision to glaucoma a couple of years ago and could no longer work as a store designer.

The rent on his two-bedroom in Sutton Place became a stretch. Finances were also tough for Channing, whose husband lives in a nursing home.

"I'm not a planner which is why I got myself in this situation," Channing said.

But the New York Foundation for Senior Citizens helped that situation with its free home sharing program.

It pairs hosts who have an extra bedroom with a guest who can help cover some expenses.

The host or guest has to be at least 60 years old and social workers figure out compatibility.

"I can count on less than five fingers the number of matches we've had to undo since 1981," said Linda Hoffman, NYFSC.

The organization's founder says the need for hosts is pressing.

"The top priority need of the elderly in New York is affordable housing," Hoffman said.

The alternative can be homelessness, but through this comes security and even companionship.

"She fits so perfectly with my life, perfectly, Steele said.

75-year-old Channing visits her husband during the day and dances the tango at night.

There she has a home base and a friend.

"I'm so glad, yes, that's he is included in my life," Channing said.
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