Introducing Airbnb into Affordable Housing?

As Seattle’s housing becomes more and more expensive, the need for affordable housing is increasing. What if there is an innovative way to provide more affordable housing without building new properties? What if we introduce Airbnb to the affordable housing?


Airbnb has been disruptive to hotel industry with a technology-based platform and has made our life more colorful by providing a unique experience for travelers. The concept of Airbnb is staying in someone else’s residence instead of staying in a hotel room, saving money and getting more of a local experience when you travel. It benefits the providers as well as travelers and creates a massive economic benefit to society.


If we apply this concept to affordable housing, then we will have a greater supply of affordable housing. Adding to the current affordable housing supply from developers, it will create another existing source to provide affordable housing.


Targeted tenants for this type of affordable housing will be recent graduates who have internships or are looking for jobs in Seattle. These people don’t have enough income to live in market rate apartments, but will eventually push out of the affordable tenant category within two to three years.


Targeted providers will be empty-nesters who have more space in their home than they need. They are more likely to have a separate floor or extra room to rent as affordable housing. Usually, these people have extra time and can enjoy the fun of having another guest whose age might be close to their children’s. Also, by doing this, they can earn some extra cash, but don’t have to go through the inconvenience of the day-to-day maintenance and turnover a typical Airbnb provider would have.


There is no such thing as a free lunch; with good things, there are always some concerns. There might be some problems in the practice of this concept. What are the landlord and tenant’s legal rights? How does lease structure stand? How do they build an Airbnb-like platform for affordable housing, and how is its use promoted? If we can provide the infrastructure, using this type of technology platform for an affordable program like this can be a disruptive way to increase the affordability of an area.



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