By Christin Ayers

OAKLAND (KPIX) — A new housing start-up based in Oakland is looking to create more affordable housing in the Bay Area.

The house-sharing start-up is called Roomily. It’s so new that it’s still in a pilot phase, but eventually its co-founder says it could help fight the Bay Area’s housing crisis.

It’s no secret that the cost and scarcity of housing in the Bay Area is pushing people out of the region.

In this year’s Bay Area Council survey, 42 percent called the housing crisis a leading problem in the Bay Area. 46 percent said they planned to leave the area in the next few years.

Roomily co-founder Jill Lindenbaum may have the solution to high-housing costs.

The website is a housemate matching platform that is geared toward home providers with spare rooms.

She started Roomily with business partner Siggy Rubinsen. Their idea is not entirely new. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf suggested something similar during her State of the City address a little over a year ago, calling on residents to rent rooms to actual housemates instead of making money through Airbnb.

Lindenbaum and Rubinsen’s start-up is a little like a dating app, but with a goal of finding a roommate, not romance.

“We kind of think of it as a combination of an Airbnb meets an eharmony,” said Lindenbaum.

During the pilot, they’re hoping to make 25 matches between renters looking for affordable housing and homeowners who have extra space and don’t mind charging below market rate.

“And in exchange, they could get services that the renter could contribute to the household: pet care, household chores, computer training,” explained Lindenbaum.

They’re starting small with a few participants in the East Bay who will sign up for the pilot, but there are plans for the program to expand.

Lindenbaum says Roomily is still looking for investors. For now they’re partnering with school districts and hospitals to help keep educators and medical workers from being forced out of the Bay Area.

“We want to find room within our community so that they can stay. We want to support them because they’re supporting our community,” explained Lindenbaum.

Roomily is still looking for investors. The pilot program is expected to last for the next three to six months.

Christin Ayers

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