What Cape Town plans to do about Airbnb housing crisis

Cape Town residents say a shortage of rental accommodation in the city has caused rental prices to soar, and have blamed the popularity of hospitality platform Airbnb.

According to reports, homeowners and investors can now make more money from shorter stays than from long-term tenants.

This follows urban planner Siri Veracruz telling Private Property that Airbnb can be a threat to cities.

Cape Town’s plans

Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport and urban development at the City of Cape Town, said efforts are underway to address the “Airbnb issue”.

“The City of Cape Town must mitigate against any displacement of residents who have lived their lives in suburbs that are now experiencing exceptional growth in property prices or are facing displacement for other reasons, such as the use of Airbnb,” said Herron.

They can do this by ensuring there is affordable housing in the Cape Town CBD, where rentals are subsidised.

He said Cape Town’s Transport and Urban Development Authority will champion a social housing agenda for Woodstock and Salt River during this term.

There are several more social housing projects which should also come to fruition in the coming months and years.

“I am hopeful that the projects we have been working on and are planning will become visible in the next few months.”

“The projects currently on the table could yield a number of affordable housing opportunities in and around the city centre. This is a good start.”

Not just Cape Town

Herron said that many metro cities across South Africa are facing a housing crisis due to rapid urbanisation.

“Urban planners the world over are grappling with this and it has been stated by experts that urbanisation is the challenge of our century: how to provide for the millions of people who migrate to cities?”

He said the biggest migration to cities is currently happening in countries within Africa and Asia.

Cape Town will need to provide an additional 650,000 housing opportunities across the city, at an estimated cost of R101 billion, over the next 20 years.

This finding is contained in its Integrated Human Settlements Framework, which the city adopted in 2013 to address housing needs.

“Addressing such a scale of need requires a radical shift in our financing and planning strategies and delivery methods. The Transit-Oriented Development Strategic Framework, which was adopted in March 2016, is the new order of business.”

First, they will need affordable housing in the inner-city and around transport corridors.

Secondly, they will leverage City-owned properties to achieve spatial transformation.

“We have already identified well-located land which can be developed in terms of access to public transport, density, and mixed use,” said Herron.

“In these areas, residential developments will have to consist of a combination of social housing, affordable housing, and middle and upper-income housing.”

Not taking houses off the market

Velma Corcoran, Airbnb’s regional market manager for Southern Africa, said house prices were a complex issue and driven by many factors.

“We’ve met countless Airbnb hosts in Cape Town and seen how home sharing has helped them pay their bills and stay in their homes. The typical Airbnb host in Cape Town earns R36,700 per year by sharing space in their home for 23 nights per year,” said Corcoran.

“They aren’t taking houses off the market, they are sharing their homes and the cities they love, and using the additional income to help pay the bills.”

Now read: Airbnb offering free housing to people stranded by Trump travel ban

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What Cape Town plans to do about Airbnb housing crisis