Frequently Asked Questions

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Friendly Housemate FAQ’s

Before entering into a shared living situation with someone it is normal to have a variety of questions about what it’s going to be like and how it will impact you. Below are answers to some of the questions that we get asked most often. If you have any other questions about becoming a friendly housemate or the Friendly Housemates program, please contact us.

1. What is the living situation like?

As with all living situations, each individual Friendly Housemates arrangement is different. At its core, Friendly Housemates always means that there will be at least two roommates: one, a post-secondary student, and one an individual with a diagnosed intellectual disability. Beyond that, each situation has its own style: some housemate pairs live in apartments or condos, others in houses. Some choose to have other roommates as well, and some do not.

Much like any living situation, the rules, routines, and atmosphere of the house develop through the patterns and relationships between the people involved. Housemates come together and decide how to divide up chores, allocate cupboard space, and who gets to pick the movie that night. A friendly housemate is not a staff member – they’re a friendly roommate, much like any other, and have a hand in shaping the living experience so that it works for everyone.

2. What is the compensation for the student?

As a friendly housemate, students receive

  • Living expenses, including rent, utilities, and internet provided by the housemate’s family,
  • A bursary not exceeding $1,000 over a maximum of three semesters, and
  • Guaranteed summer employment opportunities with Community Living Toronto.

Beyond that students also receive orientation, training, and ongoing support, as well as the opportunity to develop a deep and lasting friendship with their roommate and family.

3. What is the cost for the family?

The individual’s family is responsible for providing housing, utilities, and internet for the shared home, which will all be made available to the student. There are no additional costs associated with having a friendly housemate.

4. So what IS a friendly housemate anyway?

Friendly housemates are people who share a living space with a person with an intellectual disability. They are willing to enter into a shared living experience, are responsible, patient, open, and communicative. They’re the kind of people who are willing to take a bit of time to get to know someone and appreciate them for their individual quirks, abilities, and characteristics, even if that person initially seems a bit different from them. They’re people who like to have tea and a chat, who enjoy grocery shopping or cooking with their roommates, or who like chilling out on the couch in their pj’s, eating popcorn and watching movies together.

Friendly housemates are people who are willing to live caringly – but they are not caregivers. Friendly housemates are not staff; they do not administer medication, do personal care, or take responsibility for their roommate. While friendly housemates do often develop relationships with family members, and listen to family members’ advice about how to best get to know their roommates, housemates are not under the direction of family members. They are their own individuals, entering a living situation that in most ways is like any other.

5. What is the expected time commitment?

Students are expected to share housing for a minimum of one semester, but a full calendar year (or more!) is ideal. We ask that students commit to spending approximately 10 hours per week at home, interacting with their housemate and building that relationship.

6. What do I do if I’m having trouble in my living situation? Who will support me?

Bumps in the road are a standard part of living together – even simple disagreements over whether you wash the dishes right after cooking or leave them in the sink for a bit are common experiences for new roommates. With care and communication, the vast majority of these issues can be solved quickly and in a way that suits everyone’s needs. Better yet, a bit of foresight and pre-planning can head many potential issues off at the pass.

Before entering a Friendly Housemates situation, we hold meetings wherein all involved parties – student, housemate, family members, Community Living staff, and Case Managers (if applicable) get together to hash out what everyone’s individual needs and desires are so that we can form a working basis for the relationship that won’t be strenuous or disheartening for anyone. In this way, we hope to open lines of communication, and get started on the road to building positive relationships.

But even with planning, conflicts can arise. As a friendly housemate, you have access to knowledgeable and caring staff through Community Living Toronto, who are available to troubleshoot any challenges that you might experience in your living situation. Staff can speak with students, housemates, and families privately to help offer individual guidance, or they can facilitate group discussions if preferred. No participant in Friendly Housemates should ever feel alone, and there will always be someone to whom you can turn if you need advice or a listening ear.

7. Is this open to only Centennial College Students?

Students are expected to share housing for a minimum of one semester, but a full calendar year (or more!) is ideal. We ask that students commit to spending approximately 10 hours per week at home, interacting with their housemate and building that relationship.

8. Will I get to choose my own housemate and where I live?

Unfortunately due to privacy concerns you will not be able to choose your own housemate. The staff at Community Living Toronto and in the Friendly Housemates program take great care to create the best possible matches between students and housemates based on personality type, lifestyle, location, and shared interests. You will have the opportunity to meet your potential roommate beforehand, and if there are any immediate concerns you can always speak with Friendly Housemates staff to see whether or not there might be a better fit for you.

Since it is the families that are responsible for the housing, the student lives in a home chosen by the family. Most often, the family already has a home in which the person with the intellectual disability already lives, that they have either inherited or purchased/rented specifically for their family member. There have been instances where Friendly Housemate groups have moved during the agreement, and in those cases the student is always welcome to offer their opinions for consideration.

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