Catholic Charities of Santa Clara has partnered with the local county to launch a shared housing program, connecting renters with housing providers amid California’s high housing costs.

“We are incredibly excited to be partnering alongside the County of Santa Clara’s Office of Supportive Housing for this much needed housing resource for our community,” said Lindsey Caldwell, director of Emergency Programs and Housing Services for Catholic Charities of Santa Clara.

“I believe the House Sharing Program is going to be a great success and will truly assist those in need of housing here in the heart of Silicon Valley,” she said in an August 30 press release.

The board of supervisors for Santa Clara County approved a $1.5 million contract with Catholic Charities on April 3. The program officially opened on August 20, but candidates had been applying since the spring.

The contract money will be used to launch the program. Over the next two and a half years, Catholic Charities aims to match 100 households annually, connecting renters to house providers as well as renters with other renters.

According to rental website Rent Cafe, Santa Clara County’s average rental is over $2,700 a month. The average studio apartment costs almost $1,900 and a three-bedroom rental is more than $3,400.

“We’re proud that we can support this working partnership to find creative solutions to our housing crisis,” said Joe Simitian, president of the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors.

“If we can expand affordable housing options by matching people with extra space with those who are struggling to find a safe, affordable home, I’m all for it.”

The home sharing program is based on a national model. Catholic Charities will interview applicants to determine if they qualify for the service, inspecting income, references, and criminal background checks. Home providers will receive a one-time $200 incentive after a match successfully lasts for 90 days.

Priority will be given to applicants with a lower than median income. Catholic Charities suggested that the program could especially benefit senior citizens – who may own a house but are looking for additional revenue – and young adults.

The program is not only a way to help people struggling financially, but an opportunity to create a safe and inclusive society, promoting independence and self-sufficiency, Catholic Charities said.

Gregory Kepferle, CEO of Catholic Charities Santa Clara, said the organization is honored to “offer a creative way for people of different incomes to make ends meet by sharing the cost of housing, even as we work to create a just and compassionate community.”