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Shared Living
Surviving on Small Salary   

Shelter Not A Permanent Home

How do you live on $15,000 or less per year? For example, one of our female residents has two girls with their babies living at the mission. But, there are no men or live-at-home fathers in this family arrangement. So how do they survive in today's world? Because, as much as we wish it were so, the shelter is not a permanent home for anyone. It is not realistic to encourage our residents to think of the Gospel Rescue Mission as a permanent solution to their economic problems. So we need to provide a realistic transitional model from shelter living to independence for these ladies and men. But, how do we do that?

The American Dream?

Most of us know that in our recent past many people expected to purchase their own home with their own private bathroom and bedroom, own a nice car, carry around a cell phone or i pad, and have a big screen TV. It was the American dream to own your own home. But, is this realistic? Not in today's economic circumstances. Even renting a home in Grants Pass is beyond reality for most. Check it out. Most homes require more than $900 monthly in rental costs alone. That doesn't even count the cost of utilities.

Ancient Judaism

Yet, if we think about it there is nothing wrong with good friends or families sharing the same four bedroom apartment, trailer or house. Even the bible notes that in ancient Judaism no one completely owned their own properties. In a sense, the Lord "leased" land to His people for them to sow and harvest crops and to use for survival purposes. After 50 years the land was returned to the original tribal owners and all debts were cancelled. It was called the "Year of Jubilee" (Lev. 25:8-17).

Stewards Not Owners

I guess many of us need to recognize that we are just stewards or managers of God's resources, not the true owners. That is why we find so many parables in the New Testament having to do with proper management of the Master's riches or belongings. (Luke 16:1-13; Matt.25:14, etc).

Communal Sharing

Also, in the first and early second-century many new believers traveled to Jerusalem and found themselves in need of shelter, food and supplies. Some had been thrown out of their homes because they were accused of being part of a new cult. That is partially why many of those "who had believed were together and had all things in common. And they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need" (Acts 2:44-45).

Today's World - Economies of Shared Living

Perhaps we should begin to think in terms of our homeless residents learning to share costs of living in today's world, too. Economists call this the "economies of shared living." After all, we are reaching poverty levels not seen in America since the Great Depression.

However, although two people can't live for the price of one, several people can live together in a multi room dwelling and share rent, food costs, utilities, a car and so forth. In a multi room home just one roommate can double the household income to $2,000 assuming the first renter also earns around $1,000 per month. Adding a second roommate triples the amount to around $3,000 monthly. Having a third roommate quadruples the income to around $4,000. That's a workable salary for a family of good friends or relatives.

In the case of our single mom living with two daughters and their babies at the mission, only one mom really needs to be home with the two infants. The other two adults may be able to work. And perhaps they could invite another roommate to share expenses. Is this a workable solution? We'll see…

We want to hear what you think, too. So please send us your thoughts and suggestions.

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