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新奥尔良,被短租经济支配的城市

Tracey Lindeman 2019年12月25日

一些新奥尔良人使用了Airbnb,生活质量因此得到改善。但12月1日短租房新规的出台,或将改变居民的财运。

图片来源:Emily Kask for The Washington Post via Getty Images

旅游业驱动了美国港口城市新奥尔良的经济——去年旅游业录得创纪录的90亿美元收入。新奥尔良的大部分工作岗位,都与服务业及宾馆业有关,让新奥尔良的经济几乎完全依赖于那些来参加聚会、听音乐和参加幽灵之旅的人。

但12月1日短租房新规的出台,或将改变新奥尔良的财运。与泽西城、洛杉矶、多伦多和欧洲大陆一样,新奥尔良也在收紧出租资格,以及出租方式——那些把储蓄都投在短租房市场的人,显然会很焦虑。

他们准备好战斗了。市政厅里充斥着居民的抗议,要求市政府尊重他们的产权、对当地就业和社区经济的贡献。已经有一项诉讼案,要求推翻这些新规,并称新规只对宾馆和汽车旅馆运营者有利。

作为美国最穷的都市区之一,新奥尔良的工人收入比全国平均水平低14%,当地的人们起初成为短租房的房东,是因为他们需要增加收入。如今,在短租房平台所构建的无法解决的困境中,他们因短租房而需要钱。

“房产价值已经失控了。”短租房新规制定者克里斯汀·吉斯勒森·帕尔默说,她也是一名代表新奥尔良游客最饱和地区的市议员。最近的评估显示,房产价值以及房产税在一些区域翻了一倍甚至两倍。

帕尔默解释说,房产所有者将越来越“被迫地用Airbnb出租房子”,以便补偿巨大的缴税支出和更高的房屋收购价格。“通过短租,你可以(比通过长租)获得更多收入来弥补支出。”她说。

该市的新规包含一些引发争议的条款,首当其冲的是家宅豁免条款。该法规要求,通过Airbnb、Vrbo和HomeAway等平台出租的房子,其房东必须始终居住在该房产中,不允许投资客买房产进行出租。新奥尔良试图保护其房屋租赁市场的可获取性和可承受性,特别是为了保护那些世代以新奥尔良为家的社区。

“很明显在城市的某些地方,短租房有一个明显的效果,就是把人们赶出了这些社区。”杜兰大学研究移居问题的一位教授克里斯多夫·奥利弗说。帕尔默告诉我们,拿特雷米来说——这个地方本来地价便宜,充满活力,主要居住者是黑人群体,位于法国区的斜对角——自从短租平台来了以后,黑人人口减少了20%。

有一些新奥尔良人为了维持高昂的生活成本,使用了类似Airbnb等平台,然后待在家中——甚至还能改善生活质量。

当吉姆·维甘德和史蒂芬·格拉菲奥于15年前在拜沃特买下他们的排房时,这里完全是典型的新奥尔良式社区——一排排油漆亮丽的房屋、本地酒吧、街角的咖啡馆。每周四晚,吹号手克米特·拉芬斯会在沃恩之家的地方提供他特制的红豆和米饭。

2005年的飓风卡特里娜,使得新奥尔良80%的面积淹没于水下。但拜沃特没有被淹,只是遭了点风灾,因为它的位置处于密西西比河的顶端,是个位于高地的天然防洪堤。所以人们开始迁入拜沃特。

维甘德说,“这是更好的投资。这地方不太可能被淹。”

1994年时,这处房产价值34000美元,2004年他们购买时的价格是19万美元。如今,根据最新的地产评估,价值已达330800美元——这一价值部分原因是拜沃特独特的地理位置和快速的人口迁入。

那些能够负担税收增加的人,正在把短租房的影响变为正面的有利事项。维甘德和格拉菲奥希望这房子能够帮助他们养老。“我们所在的地方,已经不像我们父母一辈时,我们没有养老金。”55岁的维甘德,一辈子都生活在新奥尔良。

为了养老,这对夫妇还花了数万美元对房子进行装修翻新,房子前部有一个小的双人床房间,而他们居住在后部。

“当我准备退休时,我可以把前面的房间租出去,拿一点收入,我就不需要担心维护房子所需要的巨大支出。”他说。

他们的邻居卡门·米尔斯在2011年买了这套分列式套房。她住在一边,另一边租给Airbnb,她说这比长租房每月多赚800美元到2000美元。

她说,“Airbnb确实帮助我养家糊口了。我和丈夫在五年前离婚了,如果我没有Airbnb的收入,我肯定得把房子卖了。但房产税的问题很严重,我要缴的税一年内翻了一番!”现在米尔斯打算在后院再盖两间小房子租给Airbnb。

Airbnb肯定喜欢听到这些。在向《财富》杂志提供的一份声明中,Airbnb的发言人劳拉·里罗斯说,房间共享“是每个家庭都具备的少数几样手段之一,可以让他们留在他们热爱的社区,并把最大的一笔支出——他们的房子——变成一种收入来源。”

目前来说,新奥尔良的短租房新规主要针对那些拥有多套旅游出租房的个人和公司,同时保护了像维甘德和米尔斯这样的人,他们都永久居住在他们所出租的房子内。

如同许多实施了更严格的假期房间租赁措施的地方一样,新奥尔良认为成功的关键是市政府和平台都要认真执行。而这一点并不容易达成。在西班牙马略卡岛的帕尔马市,2018年的一条禁令不允许通过Airbnb之类的平台租房,但禁令未能阻止人们将房子租出去。

短租房并没有制造经济不平等,但它成为了不平等加剧的帮凶。新奥尔良已经苦于低质量的房屋、低于平均水平的工资收入、糟糕的公共交通,以及一些地区疯狂的人口迁移。

但是像Airbnb、Vrbo和HomeAway这样的平台,他们让想要在那些地方居住的人,更加负担不起居住的成本。除了高企的房产税和房屋价格,杜兰大学的研究人口迁移的学者们认为,在城市核心地段的短租房增长,事实上在把低收入长租房居民赶离市中心,越赶越远。现在对一些人来说,没有短租房收入就无法存活在这里,而要想迁移到新奥尔良的人却更觉困难。(财富中文网)

译者:宣峰

Tourism drives the economy of New Orleans—to the tune of a record-breaking $9 billion last year. A majority of the city’s jobs are tied up in the service and hospitality sectors, making New Orleans almost wholly dependent on the people who come to party, listen to music, and take ghost tours.

But come Dec. 1, new rules on short-term rentals may change New Orleans’s fortunes. Alongside efforts in Jersey City, Los Angeles, and Toronto, and across Europe, New Orleans is buttoning up who can rent to tourists, and how—and it’s sending some who sank their savings into the short-term rental market into a state of anxiety.

They’re ready to fight. Comments have flooded into City Hall from residents demanding the municipal government respect their property rights and their contributions to local employment and neighborhood businesses. A lawsuit seeking to overturn the rules, meanwhile, alleges the new rules would favor hotel and motel operators.

In one of the poorest metro regions in the U.S. where workers currently earn 14% below the national average, people in New Orleans first became short-term rental hosts because they needed to supplement their income. Now, in a catch-22 that short-term rental platforms have created, they need money because of short-term rentals.

“Property values are out of control,” said Kristin Gisleson Palmer, an architect of the new short-term rental rules and a city councillor representing some of the most tourist-saturated parts of New Orleans. Recent reassessments have seen home values, and therefore property taxes, double and triple in some areas.

Palmer explained that homeowners will be increasingly “forced to Airbnb” in order to offset their big tax bills and higher homebuying prices. “You can make more money to cover your expenses by STRing [than renting to long-term tenants],” she said.

The city’s new rules contain a few contentious items, with the homestead exemption at the top of the list. The rule requires that hosts live full-time on the properties they rent out on platforms like Airbnb, Vrbo, and HomeAway, outlawing investors from scooping up property that would do well as a rental. This is New Orleans’s attempt to protect availability and affordability in its rental housing market, especially for the communities that have called New Orleans home for generations.

“We can show pretty clearly that in certain parts of the city, short-term rentals are certainly having an effect of dislocating people from those communities,” said Christopher Oliver, a professor researching gentrification at Tulane University. For instance, Tremé—once an inexpensive, vibrant, predominantly black neighborhood kitty-corner to the French Quarter—has lost upwards of 20% of its black population since short-term rental platforms came to town, according to Palmer.

Some New Orleanians are trying to hold on for dear life and are turning to platforms like Airbnb to stay in their homes—and even improve their quality of life.

When Jim Wiegand and Stephen Graffeo bought their single shotgun home in the Bywater 15 years ago, it was a typical New Orleans neighborhood—rows of brightly painted homes, a local bar, a café on the corner. Every Thursday night, trumpeter Kermit Ruffins would serve up his special red beans and rice between sets at Vaughan’s Lounge.

Then Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, sending 80% of the city underwater. But not the Bywater. It escaped with only wind damage because of its position on the edge of the Mississippi River, a natural levee on higher ground. So people started moving in.

“It’s a better investment. It’s less likely to flood,” said Wiegand.

In 1994, his property was worth $34,000, then $190,000 when they bought it in 2004. Now, according to the latest property assessment, it is worth $330,800—a value based partly on the Bywater’s prized geography and rapid gentrification.

Those who can afford these rising tax bills are turning the short-term rental impact into a positive. Wiegand and Graffeo are hoping it helps them afford retirement. “We’re in a place now where, unlike our parents, we don’t get pensions,” said Wiegand, 55, a lifelong New Orleanian.

The couple has poured tens of thousands of dollars into renovating the house as they prepare for retirement, creating a small two-bedroom apartment in the front and their living quarters at the back.

“So when I am ready to retire, I can [rent] out my rooms in the front and have a little bit of income, and I’m not going to have to worry about the huge expense of maintaining all this,” he said.

Neighbor Carmen Mills bought a double Craftsman house in 2011. She lives on one side and rents the other on Airbnb, which she said nets her between $800 and $2,000 more per month than if she’d rented it out to a long-term tenant.

“Airbnb definitely helps me to afford my home. My husband and I divorced five years ago, and I certainly would have had to sell the house if I hadn’t had the Airbnb income,” she said. “The property tax situation is outrageous here. My taxes doubled in one year!” Now Mills has plans to double down on Airbnb by building two tiny houses in her backyard.

This is music to Airbnb’s ears. In a statement to Fortune, spokesperson Laura Rillos noted that home sharing “is one of the few tools available to any family that would like to stay in the community they love and turn their greatest expense—their housing—into an economic opportunity.”

For now, New Orleans’s new short-term rental rules primarily target people and companies with multiple tourist rental properties while protecting people like Wiegand and Mills, who live full-time on the properties they rent out.

Like most places that have enacted tighter measures on vacation home rentals, New Orleans has found its key to success lies in rigorous enforcement by both the city and the platform. That’s not always easy to achieve; in the Spanish city of Palma de Mallorca, a 2018 ban on Airbnb-style rentals hasn’t stopped people from renting out their properties.

Short-term rentals didn’t create economic inequality, but they have helped deepen it. New Orleans already struggled with poor-quality housing, lower-than-average wages, terrible public transit, and in some areas, rampant gentrification.

But companies like Airbnb, Vrbo, and HomeAway have contributed to making it more unaffordable for the people who want to live there. In addition to rising property tax bills and home prices, researchers at Tulane University studying gentrification say the growth of short-term rentals in urban cores is pushing lower-income long-term rental residents farther and farther out of city centers. Now some people can’t stay without short-term rental income, making it just that much tougher to get ahead in the Big Easy.

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