Dramatic Growth of Short-Term Rentals
The ability for low-income families, communities of color, immigrants, and refugees to live and work in Seattle must be prioritized over the growth of Airbnb.
June 2016 - The rapid rise of Airbnb in the hospitality and lodging industry has made vacation rental more accessible to visitors and easier for hosts to participate than ever before.
However, there is a downside to Airbnb and online short term rental (STR) companies in cities with rising rents, scarce affordable housing, and gentrification – it can pit the need to house visitors against the need to house our city's residents.
While Airbnb facilitates economic activity for mostly individual households and small businesses, the giant online company also depends greatly on high-intensity renting of whole units by multi-listing hosts for profit. Airbnb would like to emphasize income generated for hosts, but the company stands to make a lot of money from STR hosts who are really property managers or real estate investors. At the same time, growth in STRs threatens to remove long-term units from the local housing market, which will impact households struggling to find affordable housing and stay in Seattle.
Displacement of low-income households – whether direct or indirect – cause real and lasting harm to individuals, families, and communities. The ability for low-income families, communities of color, immigrants, and refugees to live and work in Seattle must be prioritized over the growth of Airbnb.
The City of Seattle should prioritize housing policy that puts the people the most at risk of being displaced at the center. In the case of Short Term Rentals, public policy should ensure that investors in STRs are not taking long-term units out of the housing market, particularly in areas with high risk of displacement. At the same time, the City should allow families in high displacement risk areas to take advantage of housing assets to supplement their income.