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Strike A Chord: Seniors Find Friendship and Savings Through...

Senior roommates thanks to the New York Foundation for Senior Citizens

Janice Raiford (left) and housemate Lilian Ortero (right) found each other through a roommate matching service by the New York Foundation for Senior Citizens

(Photo Courtesy)

Janice Raiford has lived in her Queens Village, New York home for more than twenty years. Raiford lived here with her daughter until she got married and moved to Florida. Raiford says she was looking for ways to take pressure off of herself as she aged and settled into retirement.
"I started to think about how to have another revenue stream and what that would look like," Raiford said. 
Raiford says it looked like Lillian Ortero. Ortero is Raiford's roommate. They've been living together for two years now. They found each other through the New York Foundation For Senior Citizens. Raiford says Ortero was the third person she interviewed before making a decision. 
"It was almost like match dot com going on a date, you know? Where they find out what are your likes, what are your dislikes," Raiford said. 
The two women are sitting in their shared living room filled with books and flowers. They have a lot in common including a shared love of reading and fashion.
Raiford worked in the non-profit sector before she retired. Now she volunteers to read with children a couple of days a week and she's an active advocate. Ortero worked in retail fashion most of her life. She says she spends her days walking on the beach and meeting up with friends. Raiford says at first she was looking for a roommate just to save money, they never expected to become friends...
"Ater you reach a certain age, it's extremely difficult to meet new friends, who can have front row seats in your live," Raiford said. "I trust Lillian." 
Ortero says the two rely on each other in small and big ways.
"Today she went out and I didn't even know she went out, she went to get flowers or something and she comes back and she brought me back my newspaper," Ortero said. "She says I got something for you and there are times that I go out that I bring her things." 
"She got me Valentine's Candy," Raiford said pointing to the box of candy sitting on the round coffee table. 
"Yeah," Ortero said, " And what's very important is trust. To trust the people you live with." 
But it's also about affordability. Ortero says moving in with Raiford has helped her keep up with the things she loves.
"Because of this I don't have to work and I can go to the beach more often and go out where I want to go," Ortero said, "It takes money, even when I go to Fire Island in the Summer." 
Ortero says she eventually wants to live on the beach. She says she's on a wait list to get into an apartment building that's right on the water. Raiford says she'll miss her roomie, but knows they'll be friends forever.