‘Like a ghost town’: how short-term rentals dim New Orleans’ legacy

By Tom Perkins

New Orleans’ Treme is regarded as the nation’s oldest African American neighborhood, but some of its residents, like Darryl Durham, now say that legacy is fading quickly.

In recent years, short-term rentals with companies such as Airbnb proliferated and now operate on about 45% of the Historic Faubourg Treme District’s parcels. Resulting rent rises and property taxes stemming from that have forced out many black families and residents, said Durham, a musician who has lived there since 2006.

Now Treme moves in an unnatural rhythm. For about half of each week, the number of tourists drops and many blocks are “like a ghost town”, Durham said. Each Thursday, the tourists return, filling hundreds of units. Suddenly, Treme is alive with groups of drunk, mostly white college-aged kids, Durham said. There are loud parties, overflowing garbage cans and countless other issues “grating” on remaining residents, he added.

Treme isn’t an isolated case. Short-term rentals are so concentrated in Bywater, Marigny and other neighborhoods around the French Quarter that some residents and longtime homeowners are finding investors have effectively converted their blocks into hotels.

The number of Airbnbs citywide spiked from 1,905 to 6,508 between 2015 and December 2018, according to the watchdog website Inside Airbnb. Of that figure, 85% are owned by investors, some of whom live as far away as San Francisco or New York City.

The low housing stock coupled with investor demand has helped send home prices and rents soaring, and exacerbated a housing crisis that’s displacing longtime New Orleanians, said housing advocate Breonne DeDecker, the Jane Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative’s program manager.

Read the full article from The Guardian here.

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