AirBnb, Vice: and gentrification in the US

I’ve been literally astonished by the recent shift in the quality of Vice News. Yes, news.Vice.com and the national editions I read in Italy and Portugal. Go dig a bit in their archives and let me know. Well, having saying that, I was not really surprised when I’ve found this article which gives an original, interesting, and critical, analysis of a phenomenon I would have never considered from “critical” perspectives. The phenomenon on stake is AirBnb, and the critical perspective links AirBnb with gentrification, namely in US cities.

For those of us trying to survive in some of the most expensive cities in the world — where everyone wants to live, but fewer and fewer people can afford to — it might even be what allows us to be able to pay the rent. But wait until you are looking for your next place to live, and see the going rates for rentals in the city. If you look at the economics of it, Airbnb is ruining your life. Or, at least, your chances at a lasting life in the city. In an attempt to make an extra buck, you may be slowly screwing yourself out of the market. That’s the concern of housing rights advocates, tenant groups, and elected officials who have railed against the online rental website and others like it — they are diminishing the supply of affordable housing, they say, making it even harder for most of us to pay for a decent place to live and still have enough money for food and transportation.

It’s not an academic research, although it quotes an academic research, which came to the point that “the short-term rental industry is having little effect on urban apartment markets”. Yet, the theme is definitely worth studying, as far as I had never considered that short-term rental, while democratising the access to cities for tourists and visitors, may result in the opposite insofar as people looking for medium- to long-term rent are concerned.

Some numbers suggest that something is happening or may be happening soon: between 20 to 40 thousands registered AirBnb users in a city where only 67 thousands flats for rent existed in 2013 (NY) are big numbers.

This is a call for further researches, then.

(Simone Tulumello)

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About Simone Tulumello

Post-doc researcher in Planning and Geography at ULisboa, Institute of Social Sciences. Keen in cities, (Italian) politics, photography, electronic music, and food. Lover of cities, especially Palermo and Lisbon, in a complicated relationship with Memphis TN.
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