Homelessness, Tasmania … and Airbnb

You may well ask what Airbnb, an online platform allowing property owners to advertise part or all of their homes directly to tourists seeking short-term visitor accommodation as part of the ‘sharing economy’, has to do with homelessness in Tasmania. After all, the typical Airbnb aesthetic,(1) one of on-trend comfort and luxury, contrasts sharply with the day-to-day housing experiences of many clients of specialist homelessness services. But there is growing evidence, admittedly anecdotal and circumstantial, that Airbnb is affecting the local housing market in ways that could very significantly disadvantage those least able to afford it.

Tasmania is undergoing a tourism boom. The undisputable success of MONA and its associated spin-offs have underpinned substantial growth in visitor numbers and given Tasmania global exposure in the cultural tourism market. This has occurred alongside a well-documented and significant shortage of tourist accommodation, especially in Hobart.(2) These and other factors have produced a situation in which Airbnb and competitor businesses like Stayz have been able to thrive.

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