Fifty-six percent of the Falls Church residents who are willing to share their homes with strangers are either separated or divorced, according to the findings of a six-month study of a housing program called Operation Match.
The report on the housing program also says 14 percent of those looking for someone with whom to share housing expenses are widowed, and 70 percent of the so-called "home providers" are under 50 years old.
"It must be carefully borne in mind that home-sharing is not what most people want, but what they have been forced into," Falls Church planning director Henry G. Bibber told the City Council in his report last week. "Home-sharing might be thought of in terms of having a house guest who comes and never leaves, and that house guest is a stranger."
Bibber pointed out that the low incomes of people looking for homes to share is "making placement difficult." He said nearly 42 percent of those seeking placement earn less than $6,000 a year, and 70 percent have annual incomes under $12,000.
Forty-six percent of those looking for housing are widowed or divorced and 42 percent have never married, the report showed. Sixty percent of these people are under 50 years old.
In the first six months of the shared-housing program, 2,100 persons have called on Operation Match for help. Falls Church officials have completed 32 matches involving 16 homes. In about 40 percent of these cases, the housemate's rent is less than $200 a month.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded Falls Church and Fairfax County $27,500 to establish Operation Match, which is modeled after a similar program in Montgomery County. Falls Church and Fairfax County officials are considering whether to continue the program, for which funds will run out in December.
In other action, the council last week awarded a $1.8 million contract to Robert J. Henley Construction Co. to build a 23,000-square-foot addition to the Falls Church City Hall and to renovate the existing building. The firm, which renovated the Rockville City Hall, was low bidder in a field of 17 contractors.