In Response to Another Attack on Short Term Housing

With deep respect for much of the work Shakeel does, I have to disagree in totality with this article. Where he says ” I know of no Uber driver or an owner of a short-term rental who has
become richer, if anything they have become poorer because the burdens
of risk are nearly entirely transferred to them.” he may not realize that he does but both my partner Andy Griggs and I are Airbnb hosts, and we can say that we have been enriched in may ways as short term hosts, both in the financial compensation for the work we do in providing this space and in the relationships we have developed with our amazing guests.

Los Angeles is currently considering a draconian measure that would essentially end all or most short term rentals. For hours, host after host gave similar testimony at a city hearing to the benefits of short term hosting. Many of the hosts are elders who are retired, many listed significant health conditions that limited our access to mainstream jobs. Many cited the joy that this work brings us, the resources it brings into our communities and the jobs it creates.

The issue of taxes is totally inaccurate, as many of us pay the 14% hotel tax, which provides the city with revenue. We support other businesses and enhance our community. People working at home increase neighborhood safety because while everyone else is at work, we’re present in the community.

The problems he sites are problems of all cities, regardless of short term or long term residency, with the exception that in the case of a short term guest, it is much easier to remove them from one’s home, than it is to remove a tenant who is similarly problematic. The process of removing a long term tenant from one’s home is expensive and cumbersome, while short term guests have no recourse if the host determines they have to leave. In the case of illegal activity, it is very difficult to remove a long term tenant, and callling the police only raises the issue of the home being used as a criminal enterprise and could result in the owner losing their home.

In our home we have a keyless entry system, so we can simply change the lock codes. The situations that have presented themselves where that was necessary don’t meet the level of concern raised in the article. Furthermore, if you have a neighbor who allows loud parties and other disruptive behavior in their home, you have a bad neighbor, regardless the situation of people causing the problems.

For the most part, our guests are amazing. Even the 11 students that stayed with us over spring break, while bringing a youthful energy to our home, were delightful, peaceful and respectful. Most of our guests are traveling families. Hosts have total control over who stays with them, especially if we live in the home. We have had minimal damage and theft. One guest took our ostrich egg, and another, who cancelled their stay in the middle of their trip, stole our copy of the Koran, we think as an act of hostility. That copy has since been replaced with a beautiful hard bound copy, a gift from Hussam Ayloush, and the CAIR office, and sits prominently in our living room, in front of our menorah. Three young travelers from Saudi Arabia saw the Koran and it made them feel welcome enough to request space to pray.

We provide well paying jobs with good benefits and healthy working conditions to 2 employees who are also neighbors– jobs that would not otherwise exist. We can hope to keep our home and pay off our mortgage, something we would not be able to do otherwise, as other job opportunities have evaporated.

Platforms like Airbnb provide support in case of emergencies and are available by phone with front end people empowered to make decisions, 24 hours a day. They already screen guests, and there is the review system, where by guests and hosts review each other. When Airbnb handles the money, we also are protected by fraud. This has taken a lot of the risk out of the work we do.

While we had some concerns going into this business, we have not had them realized and have been astounded at the quality of humanity that chooses to stay with us. It’s an amazing job even if it didn’t pay for itself. Sacred texts call for welcoming strangers into our homes. NIMBY fears of others is the real danger.

Emma Rosenthal
DragonflyHill Urban Farm

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