NEW ORLEANS — Short-term rentals have been sparking debates in New Orleans for weeks. And now the city council voted on what some say weakens already existing regulations.
Alex Robinson has rented out a room in her house as an added source of income
“I am a homeowner, I live in a single-family house with my husband, we rent out a room in our home,” Robinson said.
Robinson is a content creator and says Airbnb helps with rising costs, now she said she will have to apply for a new permit to keep renting out that room.
“Taxes and insurance, even if we want to go on vacation, just things like that, to make our quality of life better," she said.
“My income is sort of similar to a gig worker or a freelancer so I use the steady Airbnb income to get those solid bills paid.”
She went on to say, “Nobody is living in my spare bedroom, its not taking away housing from anyone, I have never evicted someone from my spare bedroom.”
The new rules include new enforcement measures to stop illegal businesses. The ordinance allows for two more permits within any city block. Property owners must apply if they want to increase the caps, but council ultimately gets the final say.
Councilman Oliver Thomas acknowledges there’s too many illegal operators and they need to be weeded out.
“What do we do with the enforcement and making sure illegal operators don’t continue to operate illegally putting more and more pressure on the affordable housing market, we haven’t fix that piece yet," Councilman Thomas said.
It’s a fight fair housing advocates, the city and investors have been waging since 2016. And one that Maxwell Ciardullo with the Fair Housing Action Center said they lost.
“We’re pretty disappointed council members voted to weaken what they had previously agreed to and allow three times as many Airbnb's inside of neighborhoods," said Ciardullo. “More short term rentals means more evictions, it means higher rents, it means higher home prices for first time home buyers and it often means higher property taxes for people who live around those short term rentals.”
Ciardullo said he believes Thursday's vote will greatly impact the city’s affordable housing crisis: “We’re deeply concerned about displacement, hallowing out our neighborhoods, especially historically Black neighborhoods like Treme, Central City and the Seventh Ward where we have seen this take a very dramatic toll.”
This new law is set to go into effect in July.