By: Mike Montgomery
As housing prices in Los Angeles continue to rise, the affordability crisis has been on the minds of state and local leaders.
It’s true that Los Angeles is among the least affordable rental markets in the country, due in part to the city’s historically low vacancy rates. But it is inaccurate and does a disservice to the actual problem to solely blame short-term rentals for this wide-ranging crisis that has sharpened over the years. Home sharing has been an important tool for middle class families to remain in their homes, in the city they love.
As incomes stagnate and the cost of living essentials like housing and child care rise, making a second unit or home available for rent on a short-term basis has helped thousands of families make ends meet.
And that is exactly what the overwhelming majority of home-share listings are — short-term rentals. Time and again, home-sharing opponents have attempted to misrepresent data to mislead Angelenos.
According to a study released in September 2015, more than 80 percent of home listings in Los Angeles on the home-sharing platform Airbnb are rented fewer than 90 nights a year. In the vast majority of cases, an entire home listing does not represent a unit of housing taken off the market but the home of a regular citizen rented a few weeks out of the year while the owner is on vacation or a work assignment.
The ability to rent out a room or a second unit has allowed many Angelenos to stay in their homes. In a survey of hosts conducted in February, nearly 3,000 said their income from Airbnb has prevented them from losing their homes to foreclosure or eviction.
Businesses throughout the city have enjoyed the benefits of Airbnb travelers. In 2015, the Airbnb community generated an estimated $920 million in economic impact for Los Angeles. These dollars are spread to local businesses and across parts of the city that don’t typically see much tourism activity.
Misleading statistics undermine the arguments of opponents who claim inaccurately that landlords are using home-sharing platforms as an end-run around rent control and other tenant protections.