The Dec. 29 editorial “A neighborly approach” urged D.C. leaders to avoid heavily regulating short-term rental companies such as Airbnb. This disregards the dramatic effect short-term rentals are having on D.C. families, particularly those struggling to find affordable housing. Perhaps the editorial board should have consulted the Dec. 24 Metro article “Spike in D.C. families crushed by rent” before urging our elected officials to give this $30 billion company free rein to drive more working families from our city.
True home-sharing to make additional income is neither new nor disruptive. But investors are buying housing units solely to rent them out on platforms such as Airbnb, allowing them to skirt zoning laws and operate illegal hotels.
Thanks to a recent investigation spearheaded by D.C. Council member Brianne K. Nadeau (D-Ward 1), we know that some D.C. landlords are using rent-controlled apartments to instead reap greater revenue from short-term rentals.
I have used Airbnb and believe it performs a useful service. Contrary to the editorial’s assertion, I do not “favor preserving the status quo.” I favor strong legislation that protects legitimate home-sharing but stops illegal hotel operators from driving families out of neighborhoods across the District.
Lauren Windsor, Washington
The writer is executive director of American Family Voices, part of the AirbnbWatch coalition.