A couple who own an “Airbnb empire” are being slammed online for contributing to Vermont’s housing crisis.
In a viral tweetuser @emily_allyce posted a screenshot of an Insider article portraying a couple who turned a vacation home in Vermont into an Airbnb and now own a 15 Airbnb “empire” that brings them $100,000 in bookings a month.
“Dear foreign investors, this is NOT a feel good piece,” she wrote. “Your ’empire’ is contributing to a serious housing shortage in VT. Please stop.”
The tweet — which has over 14,000 retweets and 136,000 likes — addresses a larger issue happening in Vermont and across the country. Rental prices are skyrocketing and apartments are hard to find, while Airbnbs remain readily available. According to Curbed, there are now more Airbnbs listed in New York City than rental apartments. In Vermont, earlier this year, a legal battle between the Burlington City Council and Mayor Miro Weinberger resulted in strict short-term rental regulations being passed by the city council, only to be rejected by the mayor.
The Burlington proposal would have required short-term rentals to be housed in the host’s primary residence, with a few exceptions. It should be a way to free up units and make Airbnb more like its original concept in the face of a nationwide housing shortage. But Weinberger argued that doing so would actually make the crisis worse. In a letter explaining the veto, Weinberger argued that the short-term rental market was good for the city’s economy and would “rob residents of the ability to make personal decisions.”
A nationwide US study found that a 1% increase in Airbnb listings leads to a 0.018% increase in rents and a 0.026% increase in home prices. On average, the study found that these increases corresponded to a median annual increase in monthly rent of $9 and a median annual increase in home prices of $1,800. The study also found that Airbnb listings increase the supply of short-term rentals while decreasing the supply of long-term rentals.
A user on Twitter pointed out that Vermont’s housing shortage is due in part to Vermont’s land-use regulations and an older population who, unlike Airbnb, are less interested in housing developments in their area. He cited a development outside of Burlington that would have 155 homes on the property. Older Vermonters successfully blocked the project, forcing the developer to sell the land.
The same group that opposed the project bought the land and turned it into a trust, making sure it would never be built on.
Reactions to the couple on Twitter have been mixed, with some criticizing the couple’s choices and others supporting their decision.
“Airbnbs and VRBOs must be phased out,” said one user wrote. “Houses are not income. Apartments are not short-term rentals. A family should live in each and every one of these houses.”
“Why do you have to fall on people to make money?” Another rebuked.
“I am a 60 year old disabled healthcare professional and due to homelessness [domestic violence]’ said a third. “I’m on a very long housing list in Vermont. This is so discouraging.”
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*Initial publication: June 22, 2022 at 8:47 am CDT
Jacob Seitz is a freelance journalist originally from Columbus, Ohio, interested in the intersection of culture and politics.
https://www.dailydot.com/debug/vermont-couple-airbnb-empire-housing-shortage/ Couple criticized for contributing to the housing shortage with Airbnb “Empire”.