(FINALIST 2019) Students receive free accommodation when they support the care of elderly care home residents.

Students are finding that accommodation near college campuses is substandard or unaffordable. Meanwhile, elderly people in care often experience social isolation, which studies demonstrate adversely impacts both their mental and physical health. Humanitas Retirement Village, a long-term care facility in the city Deventer in the Netherlands, offers free accommodation to students in exchange for thirty hours of their time, per month, to help the elderly residents.

This arrangement provides a mutual benefit: rent-free accommodation for students and a younger demographic to help support the care of, and foster interactions with, elderly residents. As part of their agreement, students teach residents various skills, such as using email and social media, as well as providing companionship. While these exchanges are important, it is living in such proximity that helps relationships and connections to develop, eases loneliness and makes a positive contribution to the mental health of the seniors.


Jan Jaap Kolkman

Member of expert team housing and Chairman committee of self-built and custom housing, Department of International Affairs and Housing