Activists say Airbnb makes New Orleans housing shortage worse

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Airbnb and other platforms for short-term rental listings are exacerbating the housing crisis in New Orleans, according to a new report from the Jane Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative (JPNSI). The analysis in the report coincides with similar findings in other cities: a large part of short-term rentals are controlled by operators with multiple properties, suggesting that owners choose to place units on Airbnb and other sites, avoiding long-term tenants . .
The most beautiful image of an Airbnb host is that of an owner or tenant who offers an informal bed and breakfast or lets out a free room. But Airbnb listings are often presented by owners who rent multiple properties on Airbnb in series, and in New Orleans, the statistics are particularly severe: almost half of all short-term rentals are offered by advertisers with multiple listings.
"Evicted so that the entire home can be placed in the short-term rental market"
JPNSI analyzed data from the city of New Orleans (which currently regulates short-term rentals through a permit system), reports data from platforms such as Airbnb and Airbnb data scraping by the activist group Inside Airbnb . The organization found that only 18 percent of operators are responsible for 44 percent of all short-term licensed rentals. The report also says that short-term rental operators invest in additional residential properties to obtain higher profits, and that the acquired properties "are often already occupied by tenants who, summarily, are evicted in order to place the entire household in the STR. market."
JPNSI says the number of hosts on several lists in New Orleans has increased in recent years: as of this month, the top ten Airbnb operators in the city have a total of 568 listings. The report also says that of these operators, several are "corporations outside the city that exist solely to convert housing units into RTS."
"Corporations outside the city that exist solely to convert housing units into short-term rentals".
When it came to comment, an Airbnb spokesperson said the JPNSI study "relies on unreliable data to draw false conclusions about our community when the reality is that the vast majority of New Orleans hosts share homes in the who live". JPNSI, the conclusion that 18 percent of operators are responsible for 44 percent of authorized short-term rentals is based on the city's permitting database). Airbnb also stated that the company was "committed to working with the City of New Orleans" long-term housing and neighborhood character, "and that it was working with enforcement agencies to eliminate unlicensed listings.
In its full 2015 report, the San Francisco Chronicle found that Airbnb "super hosts" with three or more listings accounted for 4.8 percent of all hosts, but they controlled 18.2 percent of all San Francisco listings. Tenants in San Francisco have also reported that they were evicted only to see their previous homes that later appeared on Airbnb. The neighborhoods "subjected to the strongest gentrification pressures" are the same ones that have the most Airbnb listings. In 2017, Inside Airbnb concluded that Airbnb hosts in black neighborhoods in New York City were five times more likely to be white, and therefore, Airbnb rentals in those neighborhoods were contributing to gentrification by following racial criteria. (The methodology of that particular study has been much discussed).
Since 2016, Airbnb has banned hosts with multiple listings in San Francisco and New York. The bans in New York and San Francisco followed years of critical press coverage, with the New York ban announced shortly before Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill imposing fines on hosts who violated local housing regulations.
The multiple listing effect now reported in New Orleans has been difficult to pin down in the past. In 2015, Airbnb published internal data about the New York lists, stating that only 5 percent of its hosts were from multiple lists. The analysis by two independent people who were trimming Airbnb data found that just before the report came out, Airbnb performed a "one-time spot purge of more than 1,000 lists", which distorted the result of how many hosts were listing properties multiple
Gentrification and housing shortages are complex issues. San Francisco and New York, the big cities with few homes and local governments that are hostile to Airbnb, have bans on multiple listings, and do not necessarily see a reversal of gentrification. However, one study found that as of this year, hosts with multiple listings continue to be rampant regardless of the ban. David Wachsmuth, professor of urban planning at McGill University, found that 12 percent of Airbnb operators in New York are "commercial operators" with multiple listings.
The figures of the Airbnb market in New Orleans, unhindered by any multiple sales ban, are much more extreme. And, according to JPNSI, New Orleans is seeing a rebound in short-term rents in historic black neighborhoods. Short-term rents, says the organization, are "taking advantage of and contributing to the displacement of black communities."


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