Sharing Is Not Caring: The Hidden Downsides of a Shared Economy

By now we’ve all heard Airbnb’s much-refuted claims that it doesn’t affect affordable housing and simply helps middle-class families earn extra money.

But in a recent op-ed for The Hill, Raoul Lowery Contreras writes that Airbnb and the short-term rental economy is actually “benefiting very few at the expense of many.”

How, you ask?

Airbnb owners are snatching up affordable housing that would otherwise go to America’s most vulnerable populations, especially working class families. Contreras points out that in Los Angeles, a city deep in the throes of Airbnb short-term rental battles, has both the largest immigrant population in the country and one of the largest college student populations in the country.

“They are suffering consequences of a surge in short-term rentals. Add to that mix smaller minority homeownership rates and it is easy to see who is experiencing financial benefits of short-term rentals, and who suffers,” Contreras writes.

Airbnb has been scheming to avoid regulations all across America, allowing those most vulnerable to suffer.

Contreras says if nothing changes, “more units will be unavailable to full-time residents. Unemployment will plague the vulnerable. Regular rents will increase as fewer units will be available to full-time residents. In this, we see a looming disaster.”

But there is a solution to this problem. Contreras says limits, caps, and business licensing for short-term rentals are a way to help fix this growing inequality. That makes sense to us and 91% of Americans agree.

We need our city officials to act before this difficult situation gets worse.