Letter: Airbnb effect helps residents

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The Columbian Editorial Board fundamentally misconstrues the “Airbnb effect” in the June 11 editorial “In Our View: Beware the Airbnb Effect.” Far from exacerbating affordability challenges in America’s cities, home sharing helps people stay in their homes by providing a key source of supplemental income.

As shown in a recent Bay Area Council Economic Institute report, the additional income generated for hosts which allowed them to stay in their homes dramatically outweighed any negative impact potentially caused by full-time, commercial home sharing. All told, the report concluded restrictions on home sharing would hurt far more residents than it would help.

Similarly, in Vancouver, Airbnb listings make up less than half a percent of the city’s nearly 72,000 housing units. Most of these are occasionally rented by permanent residents to make ends meet. In fact, here in Washington:

• 85 percent of Airbnb hosts share their primary home;

• Over 60 percent report using the income they earn to stay in their homes;

• 17 percent of hosts are retired, with many relying on home sharing to supplement fixed incomes and other savings;

Bottom line: the true “Airbnb effect” is about economic empowerment for families and local businesses.

We urge Vancouver officials to embrace this growing industry and support residents who want to share their homes.