A room in exchange for support in the household: that's how "Wohnen für Hilfe" works. The project arranges housing partnerships between young and old. Students get a cheap room, senior citizens get help with everyday life.
Participants in the programme discuss the exact nature of the exchange individually. Mostly, it involves tasks like mowing the lawn, going shopping or cooking together. Nursing or medical services of any kind are excluded.
For a long time now, such partnerships have not only been arranged with senior citizens: families, single parents and people with disabilities are also involved.
The rule of thumb is one hour of help per square metre of occupied living space per month. That makes 15 hours of assistance per month for a 15-square-metre room. The only costs incurred by the students are the utilities, such as electricity, water and gas.
Similar to a normal shared apartment, it is important that both parties get along well with each other. The student service organisations (STWs) arrange the accommodation free of charge and advise both parties. However, the contracting parties are always the landlord or landlady and the tenant.
In the meantime, about 12 STWs are involved in "Wohnen für Hilfe" projects throughout Germany.
In view of the shortage of rooms for students, however, this type of renting is only a supplement to alleviate the student housing crisis. There is an urgent need to expand the number of places in student halls of residence.