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New Orleans has become the latest city to put the short-term home rental service Airbnb in the political crossfire. But whereas Airbnb has been under scrutiny in the other cities for allegedly disrupting the housing market, in this case, a pair of leading housing advocacy groups are questioning whether the political targeting of Airbnb is distracting attention from affordable housing issues.
According to a NOLA.com report, the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance and the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center have submitted a joint statement to the City Planning Commission, which is reviewing proposed rules that would offer some degree of legal oversight on the short-term rentals supported by Airbnb and similar services. While the two groups acknowledged there was no data to confirm that Airbnb was driving up housing costs, they questioned the impact that Airbnb is having on the city’s efforts to encourage more affordable options in housing.
"Short-term rental regulation makes sense for a variety of reasons, but without a better demonstrated link between short-term rentals and affordability, we cannot reasonably expect to solve challenges for long-term renters solely by focusing on short-term rental regulation," the housing advocates said in their statement.
In a somewhat unexpected turn, both groups questioned the costs of regulatory enforcement of local short-term rentals, arguing that the money targeted for this type of oversight would be better used by New Orleans’ Neighborhood Housing Improvement Fund.
"If the Commission and supporters of short-term rental regulation are genuine in their concern for cost-burdened renters, then they should seek to limit the burden of enforcement on the City," the advocates said.