Carmel Boss, future founder of CoAbode: Single Mothers House Sharing, found herself after her divorce facing high housing costs, juggling childcare and work with little to no help at all. Anxious about raising her son alone, she found herself wondering, “Where’s my village? Where’s my tribe?”
One day the answer came to her after a meditation: Find someone in similar circumstances who was in need of housing. Living together in shared housing would provide many benefits including support and companionship. Soon Carmel began to spread the word via friends, ads, networking events that she was looking for a housemate.
That inquiry led to a high volume of interest from other single moms within her immediate neighborhood. “Their stories were really amazing. I didn’t even know that a lot of the single mothers were living in the conditions they were. One woman was living in a converted garage with two children, but another woman was living in a two million dollar mansion—she was just lonely.”
Eighteen interviews later, she found her first housemate, another woman with two young sons who shared the same philosophy and priorities as Carmel. That shared experience lasted a year and half, but formed a lasting relationship between the two women and their children.
The Start of CoAbode
After her initial interviews, Carmel noted that a number of women could be connected for possible house sharing opportunities. She realized that she could create a resource for helping single moms come together not only as housemates, but also to build a community of like-minded women.
From her own experience, Carmel discovered that sharing a home with another single mother reduced household expenses by an average of 40 percent. And she says, “We’ve learned that single moms who share housing can recover an average of 56 additional hours per month when they live in shared housing.” Most importantly they can gain companionship and support which adds up to community at its very best.
With that idea in her head, Carmel decided to launch CoAbode with the mission of getting two (or more) moms to join forces ad share housing so that they could achieve more together rather than going at it alone.
The primary program CoAbode offers is Home Sharing that connects single mothers with other moms who share compatible interests and parenting philosophies.
Once the applicants completes the free registration process, they are able to access the database portal and see who is looking for a home-mate and email them if you see a potential match. Currently there are more than 100,000 women—ranging in age from 19 to 56—registered across the United States and Canada.
The portal also allows users access to The Friend Circle that provides a special environment to develop and nurture friendships, build community, exchange information, childcare, arrange carpooling, and create opportunities for social interaction.
But Does it Work?
Success stories abound as noted on the website. CoAbode caters to all single moms from diverse economic backgrounds and situations. Danielle in Washington, D.C. wrote the following :
“But I never dreamed it would be this amazing. Simpler. Better. Happier. Easier. Cheaper.
I was stressed. I was moving to a new town that I was ecstatic over, but everyone kept asking if I knew how expensive it was to live near Washington, DC. I really didn’t. And then I read about CoAbode in USA Today. I stayed up half the night during my first web visit – reading people’s profiles and imagining the possibilities. But even in all my hoping and dreaming, I never thought things would be THIS good.
I met my roommate at a CoAbode support group planned for people in our area. We became friends first (we both have 5 year-old boys), which helped, and after a while began discussing what sharing a house would be like. We took the time to iron out a lot of details before we agreed to do it; how we’d handle different situations, what was important to us, what we valued, and what we hoped to get out of the experience. After we felt sure that we could mesh our lives under one roof, I was pretty certain that at the very least, this was going to be a “good arrangement.” But I never dreamed it would be this amazing. Simpler. Better. Happier. Easier. Cheaper.
Most importantly, our boys are having the time of their lives. No more boring weekends watching mom clean the house. No more watching lots of videos or entertaining themselves while she does laundry, pays bills, cooks, etc. Now, when we clean the house, there are two of us sharing the load -taking half the time and getting more done –and meanwhile the boys are peeing their pants laughing together! It’s not been without its transitions, but it’s gone amazingly well.
And for me, having someone else to talk to, bounce ideas off of, learn from and share with is incredible. Not to mention that I now can have a bit of a social life, go see a movie, shop at night, go get a coffee…things I didn’t do while living alone. And having a built-in baby-sitter that I care about and trust, and whom my son loves, is priceless. My roommate has even started to take classes at night, too, something she wasn’t able to do while living alone!I feel I owe a lot to CoAbode. My life is definitely better because of your efforts, and I am grateful every day for how your idea has changed my life. Thank you for all you have done.”
If you know of a single mom who is in need of housing and companionship, please visit www.coabode.org.