Every Single County in America Is Facing an Affordable Housing Crisis-CityLab

When people overreact about airbnb, I think I’ll bring this story up. Affordable housing has been in a crisis for some time, long before that site was created.
The lack of affordable housing issue comes from the same old greed that has allowed this crisis to happen in every place in the US (not all of which are airbnb-heavy counties): owners cashing in on the highest rates they can get for their property, whether the culprit are developers or homeowners. If you want to charge at the high end of market rates (whether through airbnb or Craigslist/classifieds or using brokers or any other system), then you are going to get a revolving door of tenants and those tenants are not going to care about the area or the neighbors. If you want to have responsible tenants, then map out something that works for both parties whether using airbnb, a handshake or Craiglist/classifieds or using brokers or any other system. As for those who use airbnb to decimate their neighborhoods: those folks have been around since the first days of the Industrial Age, using any means necessary to populate their slums. The way to counteract those slumlords is for a city government to take affordable housing seriously, and begin to address that issue without penalizing those homeowners (and yes renters) that use their property properly to offer good places to long-term neighbors and to the type of visitors interested in participating in community when they travel, and for short-term and newly arriving residents.
I find it ironic that those who are crying the loudest against airbnb are not now (and have never been noted for) demanding rent controls or incentives to increase long term affordable housing. (Interestingly, after Katrina, the vitriol against public housing was shocking and directed almost entirely at those trapped in the cycle of poverty for generations as their neighbors and neighborhood associations applauded the shuttering of well-built, brick townhouse and had no issue with the crap now being slowly built in its place with much of it reserved for market rate apartments.) I have been lucky for almost my entire renting life to have caring and responsible homeowners that I have rented from (including presently, stand up and wave to the people, E and D) and they always repay my loyalty with their own, but too many of my friends are being priced out of the city because of this type of rampant market-rate greed that started IMMEDIATELY after Katrina (long before airbnb) and so lets call it what it is. I have long advocated for the city to offer tax credits for rent-controlled listings or at least for those who offer rates on the low end or middle. I think the DDD should offer incentives to the owners of Canal Street businesses to develop their upper floors for the service industry to be able to be in walking distance of their workplaces, and the same with the Quarter (as a resident, I can show you how many floors over storefronts are completely vacant; it would boggle your mind).
Airbnb done badly is just a symptom of that greed and outlawing it will not stop slumlords but will reduce the number of caring residents who use it responsibly to make the mortgage or to keep their apartment if they need to be away for a month or two. Airbnb offered the data in 2013 that 89% of their listing were single listings of primary residences. (If you suspect that data is 100% accurate, I will say that i have some skepticism just as I do about hotel data, but I can tell you that in my 20+ airbnb trips, all but 2 of them have been primary residences and those 2 were well-managed European hostel-style with strict rules about behavior.) As a constant traveler, I appreciate the ability to stay in a neighborhood and get to know residents, and to be able to walk to the store and to the metro or bus. I cannot tell you how many times before airbnb that I was in a hotel “zone” with no place to walk to get food and little access to public transportation, no one to talk to about what or where it was safe for a woman alone, adding up to what was often a stressful experience.
Check out these sensible recommendations for short-term housing (including different rates for primary residence airbnbs and a cap on the number of short-term rentals in any one area):

http://www.theselc.org/draft_short_term_rental_recommendati…, but let’s recognize that the boogeyman has been among us for some time and cannot be solved by outlawing a sharing site.

Affordable Housing Crisis

About DW

New Orleans resident, writer, activist. Public market consultant.

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