Nine years ago, Laurie and Alec Keit quit their corporate jobs to find work they loved. Laurie became a florist, and Alec began working as a general contractor. With two steady incomes and a roof over their heads, the Keits didn't start worrying about finances until the economy began to unravel in the spring of 2008.

When times got tough, Laurie says they got loans from friends and family members, canceled their phone and cable service, stopped eating out and sold their furniture. "Anything that basically isn't nailed down, it's up for sale. We're talking about survival at this point," she says.

Then, a family friend suggested they look into a program that helps homeowners pay their bills—home sharing. "She said: 'There's a housing program that will match you up. They'll actually prescreen people, and they'll put you together,'" Laurie says.

Find out more about home sharing.

Within days, the Keits were paired with Lori and her 17-year-old daughter, Renee. When her husband was laid off from his auto industry job in Indiana, Lori says she needed to relocate to San Francisco to pick up more hours as a flight attendant. "I had to transfer out here to help my family financially," she says. "I needed to find a safe place for both of us to live."

Two weeks into the home share, both families agree it was the right decision. "It was instant. We knew that we would be okay together," Lori says. "The second I walked into the home, I knew I was home." The Keits say they're now considering renting out another room to someone looking for a place to call home.


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