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Roommate app teams up with housing advocates to help the homeless

See how SpareRoom and Breaking Ground are working to address homelessness in NYC

Flickr/Dirk Knight

The roommate finding service SpareRoom has teamed up with the supportive housing provider Breaking Ground to tackle homelessness in their own way. Recently SpareRoom launched a new incentive for its users: a contest where one roommate gets one month’s rent free each month (and one lucky winner gets their entire rent paid for the whole year).

Users taking part in this service encouraged SpareRoom to adapt this model to tackle the city’s homelessness problem, and that’s where Breaking Ground came into the picture. For each month’s winner in the Live Rent Free contest, SpareRoom will donate a matching amount to Breaking Ground’s Transitional Housing program, which is currently operational in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and will soon open in Queens.

“At SpareRoom we know from experience that finding the right place to live can be tough,” said Matt Hutchinson, the director of SpareRoom, in a statement. “That’s why we do everything we can to ease that pain and help people find great roommates. But there are thousands of homeless New Yorkers left without this basic human need—which has a devastating effect on their lives so we’re looking forward to this opportunity to help.”

November’s winner in the Live Rent Free contest received $2,075, so that same amount was also contributed to Breaking Ground’s Transitional Housing program. This initiative provides short-term housing for homeless New Yorkers, along with supportive services, while they try to find a permanent home. So far, SpareRoom has contributed $3,314 towards the transitional housing program.

“We’re thrilled at the prospect of partnering with SpareRoom—not just because these funds will have an immediate impact on our work to address homelessness, but because we’ve felt from the start that SpareRoom shares our belief that everyone deserves to have the security of a home,” said Brenda Rosen, the president of Breaking Ground, in a statement.

In the coming months, SpareRoom is planning to host additional fundraising events to allows its user to get further involved with efforts to tackle homelessness in the city.