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Odd Couples Housing Fosters Intergenerational Living Among Students And Seniors

Amy Taylor and Yuki Hanashiro live together in Taylor's house in University City. Also pictured: Taylor's cat, Sophie, a former beauty queen "best in show" contestant.

Amy Taylor bought her home in University City with the hope of sharing it with strangers.

“When I was renovating a home in Connecticut, a good friend of mine — a retired psychiatrist — asked me if I wanted to stay at her home while my kitchen was being renovated, and I absolutely loved it. We had another roommate, Adam, and the three of us basically sort of formed a family unit,” Taylor said. “So when I moved to St. Louis, I specifically bought a home where I could see how I could have roommates.”

For the first months of 2020, Taylor did just that. She opened her home to Yuki Hanashiro, who came to St. Louis from Japan to study at Fontbonne University. The two were connected by Odd Couples Housing, a service that brings together seniors with an extra room in their home and young adults looking for an affordable place to live.

Taylor and Hanashiro, along with Taylor’s two cats, lived together for a few months before the COVID-19 outbreak hit. A few weeks ago, Hanashiro flew back to Japan to be with family. But in their brief time together, they agreed that the living situation helped them avoid feelings of loneliness.

“It’s nice to have someone to come home [to],” Taylor said, “and just have a sense that there’s someone in the home — I like that.”

Hanashiro said that as an international student, she liked being immersed in American culture within Taylor’s home, compared to her past experience of living in dorms, which was sometimes lonely.

“This is a good experience because living here, I’m living with people and I can meet cats, so I don’t feel lonely,” she said. “And it’s also very close [to] school and cheaper [rent].”

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with Odd Couples Housing’s co-founder John Levis and director Brian Carpenter about the benefits of intergenerational living.

“This is a great opportunity to help people stay connected, stay engaged, learn new things and avoid the isolation and loneliness that can be more common as people grow older, as their social networks shrink and as they may have more physical limitations that make it harder for them to get out in the community,” Carpenter said.

Those interested in learning more about the program can visit their website, https://www.oddcoupleshousing.com/.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Joshua Phelps. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.

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Emily is the senior producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.
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