Caretaker Work-trade for Housing-insecure Families

This program seeks to connect elderly homeowners with families in need of a rent discount in exchange for caretaking. Affordable housing has become a nationwide concern. Rising rents have been devastating for families that were barely making ends meet. While housing policy advocates struggle to make headway, one avenue for immediate support is to find mutually beneficial ways to share currently available housing. A caretaker work-trade agreement allows people to give mutual support, where the aging can get their changing needs met while extending compassion to like-minded families in need of affordable housing.

We recognize that it can feel risky and unfamiliar to share your extra space, so we have set up support services to help homeowners decide what’s workable and prepare for a successful home share. One key to success is to make clear agreements up front so that misunderstandings are minimized. We’re here to help with setting up a legal but flexible work-trade agreement. You might want to find affordable help to retrofit your extra space to give your caretaker residents more privacy. Read on to see what we can offer.

Qualifications for Caretakers in the Work-trade Program

We work to find grant funders who have a mission to assist homeless or housing-insecure families, so our qualifications may change depending on who we are able to partner with. Here are some of the qualifying characteristics we currently prioritize for those interested to be a caretaker in a work-trade:

  • female-headed families finding it a challenge to make ends meet or currently in a women’s shelter
  • able-bodied caretaker capable to assist an elderly person with physically demanding tasks
  • interested in stable long-term shared housing
  • can pay reduced rent for partial caretaking or no rent for fulltime work-trade

Step 1: Prepare Your Home

Prerequisites for homeowners:

  • Basic safety features (fire extinguisher, smoke alarm)
  • Basic comforts (beds, adequate lighting, heating, cooling)
  • Basic privacy (locks, window coverings, own bed room)

Your ICmatch consultant will:

  • Communicate what might be missing. Your caretaker found thru this program could help set up what is needed, and ICmatch might be able to help identify local organizations that can further support with this preparation.

Step 2: Identify Funding Sources & Supports

Your ICmatch consultant will provide:

  • Depending on what financial resources the potential caretaker has, we might need to help search for additional funds to meet rent if you are renting also or struggling with maintenance and tax burdens.
  • Depending on resources available to our program, we may suggest partners or assist in partnering with local support services.
  • Assistance identifying grants for upgrades that may be needed to meet the basic safety, comfort, and privacy requirements. Because the upgrade will benefit the homeowner regardless of whether you continue with our program, it’s important for the homeowner to take on the bulk of this responsibility. We may be able to help identify available grants. We can connect you with a qualified grant writer.
  • We can review your grant and make recommendations after it seems ready to submit.

Step 3: Write up Agreements 


  • Clarify what types of help your ideal caretaker would be good at and how many hours of help you need.
  • Write out what you need a caretaker to agree to, such as not letting a pet out of the house or yard unattended, or airing out the bathroom daily to prevent mold.
  • State if there is any extra help you would be willing to give, such as allowing use of your car for grocery store trips.

Your ICmatch consultant will provide:

  • Review and feedback of the agreements draft.
  • Provide the agreements draft to candidates who seem promising.

Step 4: Outreach and Visibility to Find the Right Match


  • Let us know if you have privacy considerations. For example, if there are local organizations that we might partner with but you don’t want your home share offer advertised to them, it’s important for us to know.
  • We would like to have photos of the parts of your home that will be accessible for the home share resident. We will share these only in ways you agree to.

Your ICmatch consultant will:

  • Help you create one or more profiles online such as at ICmatch and leading senior homeshare sites such as This could help you find a caretaker family who is the best fit available.
  • Help you communicate with potential matches on these platforms if that part feels uncomfortable to you.
  • Advertise a general offer on relevant social media or other platforms to identify potential matches with compatibility and readiness. The ad could keep your identity private if that’s important to you.
  • Invite the most promising potential matches to take a closer look at your home share offer.
  • Include you in partnering with aligned local organizations as much as you are willing.

We want to help promote you and the potential caretaker so that a mutually beneficial relationship can start to develop. We will do our best to be honest about challenges either of you may have, while also helping you both put your best foot forward.

Step 5: Meet Potential Homeshare Matches

Your ICmatch consultant will provide:

  • An online 3-way meeting to introduce you to each other.
  • An in-person meeting at a neutral location to discuss agreements.
  • An in-person meeting at your home, including a walk-thru of the parts of your home that will be available for the caretaker and her family, and a chance to get to know briefly any other family members who live with you or near you.

If all goes well, we will finalize the agreements and set a move-in date to start a trial period.

Step 6: 1-Month and 3-Month Trial Periods

After the caretaker moves in, we’ll continue to offer support.

Your ICmatch consultant will provide:

  • Weekly check-ins to see if help is needed to discuss any delicate issues or misunderstandings.
  • Help to identify potential partnerships with aligned local organizations that can offer ongoing support.
  • Guilt-free assistance to end the relationship if big issues can’t be resolved during the trial periods.
  • Meeting after a month to adjust agreements if needed.
  • Meeting to assess the situation after another three months.

Step 7: Mediation


We want you to feel secure that even after the trial period, if big difficulties come up, we’ll support you in trying to resolve them. Before you request mediation, try our suggested communication formats and tips we will provide. Your willingness to engage in good-faith efforts to resolve issues could make a difference in how willing we will be to help you find a replacement caretaker.

Your ICmatch consultant will provide:

  • Mediation and/or conflict resolution if there has been unresolved tension with each other, with neighbors, or with a support organization.
  • Assistance with a move-out plan if a severely problematic situation cannot be resolved.

Step 8: Program Evaluation

Your ICmatch consultant will request periodic written responses and brief phone check-ins, to make sure you both feel supported and are able to work on resolving challenges. We will anonymously include information about participants when we describe numbers of people helped in our program. No one will be able to identify you from this information. This may help us validate the program’s usefulness as we seek grants to continue the program.