The Right to Housing, Not Vacation Homes

Can strict regulations on Airbnb solve the housing crisis? Probably not, but they’re a good start.

ZNET, Sonali Kolhatkar, February 7, 2024

Americans have been on a vacation binge since the easing of COVID-19 lockdowns, traveling for leisure in record numbers, and generating a major boom for the tourism industry. The vacation rental company Airbnb in particular, built on the euphemistic-sounding idea of a “sharing economy,” is thriving. In the third quarter of 2023, the company posted its highest-ever profits on record.

But increasingly, cities are seeing rising rents, unaffordable home prices, and increased homelessness. Authorities are linking such housing-related crises in part to Airbnb, and are passing strict regulations.

I’ve rented several Airbnb homes over the 15 years since the company was founded. In the early years, staying in other people’s houses was a sort of subversive act of rebellion against corporate hotel chains. During the most terrifying pre-vaccine months of the COVID-19 pandemic, short-term home rentals felt significantly safer than hotels, amid fears of the deadly airborne virus spreading among unmasked crowds in elevators and hotel lobbies. The privacy, convenience, and lower cost often enabled tourists with tighter budgets to enjoy family vacations with members of their chosen pandemic pods.

Read More: ZNET