Hanging plants in front of house in New Orleans, Louisiana

AirBnb gentrification: the not-so-sharing economy

1 min read

When AirBnb launched the age-old idea of swapping housing or privately renting out quarters via a digital app, it was a revolutionary economic act.

Now as the short term rental industry expands, the complexions of cities change. On one hand, residents must share space for those looking for an “authentic” experience. In another light, renters who grew AirBnB must compete with aggressive property owners and real estate developers.


“Airbnb gentrification,” describes the displacement of longtime residents by turning communities that are usually low-wealth or people of color into tourist attractions; which in turn, clashes with and disturbs the daily flow of neighborhoods.

In high traffic cities like New Orleans or Los Angeles, residents navigate temporary visitors in odd places. Like the Barnyard, an underground blues club in South Los Angeles for local blues players and enthusiasts see an uptick of white tourists. Though their presence is welcoming, it is an oxymoron as the club sits in one of the last largely working class African American enclaves in the city.

Another issue is property owners are beginning to displace tenants to accommodate the booming rental sharing economy. Some residents in major cities have been forced to leave longtime residences when rents skyrocketed. This is evident in New York and Washington DC as well, in historical neighborhoods such as Adam’s Morgan. Right now local governments are reviewing their relationships with AirBnb to curb displacement.

Discover Manhattan

For New York, AirBnb brings polarizing voices. New York residents capitalize off of the city’s exorbitantly high hotel rates. A report by Amsterdam News says over a thousand Harlem residents hosted close to 30,000 visitors between 2012 and 2013.

However, New York City government expressed less enthusiasm as it attempts to collect taxes from renters. To quell the issue, AirBnb offered to pay the city $21 million in taxes in 2013.

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