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'That would be a miracle'

by BILL BULEY
Staff Writer | February 23, 2024 1:09 AM

COEUR d'ALENE —  Mimi Hiibel has struggled to find affordable housing for the past two years. 

She still is.

The North Idaho College student in the social work program is currently living in a hotel.

“I want to be able to finish my education and get off welfare and financially support myself," Hiibel said. "And then eventually, I want to be able to help other people in similar situations find stability.” 

She may have finally found housing help and has applied to the HomeShare program. 

“If I could find a room to rent through HomeShare, even temporarily while I wait to get into a low-income apartment, that would be a miracle,” Hiibel said. 

HomeShare Kootenai County recently launched what it believes could be a solution for students looking for affordable housing in North Idaho. 

With rents running about $1,500 or higher for two-bedroom apartments, students often struggle to find affordable housing. Likewise, residents with rooms in their homes may be interested in a short-term tenant to help with their finances.

That led HomeShare Kootenai County to add an off-campus housing page on its website.

Louisa Rogers, a HomeShare board member who runs NIC's Center for New Directions, said the off-campus housing page will be a great resource to the students.

“Renting a room to a student is a unique experience. Maybe they only need the room for one or two semesters, or won’t need the room during winter or summer breaks,” Rogers said. “These agreements can look different, depending upon the situation. HomeShare KC is able to make these housing agreements quite flexible.” 

Tess Reasor, executive director of HomeShare Kootenai County, said the mission aims to increase the availability and affordability of housing in Kootenai County by connecting home providers with home seekers.

She said homesharing is mutually beneficial. It can provide extra income for one party and affordable housing for the other.

“At this point, we need more home providers,” Reasor said.

HomeShare Kootenai County has made 27 matches over the last six months. It has over 70 individuals looking for rooms, which includes college students. 

“I’ve already witnessed students who have found rooms to rent, and through that, they have found friendship and community with the people they are renting from,” Rogers said. 

Some in need of a room to rent have posted their information on the website. They include:

A 49-year-old female student looking to pay $700 a month rent plus six hours of service. "I love my privacy and peace and quiet. I will not live in inadequate, subpar living situations. I sleep an average of 7 hours nightly and like to get up early, (between 4-7am) and not go to bed too late. I love to be able to spend time walking, hiking, or bicycling if possible," she wrote.

A 22-year-old male student wrote that he is looking to pay $700 a month and is offering to do 10 hours of work such as cooking, housekeeping and yard work. "I always pay rent on time, I generally stay out of the way of my roommates, I’m quiet and very self sufficient. I also consider myself to be very friendly and well mannered, and I don’t do any drugs, and only occasionally drink," he wrote.

Hiibel says that someday, when she owns a home, she will rent a room through HomeShare. 

“It’s a great program," she said. "It’s a beautiful thing to contribute and be part of the solution."

Info: www.homesharekc.org/listings/student-housing

If you are a room seeker or have a room to rent in your home, fill out an online application at www.homesharekc.org.