Fixation on short-term rentals called distraction from 'true culprit'
from Grassroot Institute, December, 2023
An AEI Housing Center report says lawmakers should reconsider policy failures that created the demand for STRs in the first place
There is a prevailing belief in Hawaii that short-term rentals are responsible for the state’s housing shortage.
Even Gov. Josh Green recently criticized STRs, stating, “People make a lot of money off of that, but what’s the consequence? We don’t have enough housing for our people.”
But a new report by Tobias Peter, senior fellow and co-director of the AEI Housing Center in Washington, D.C., challenges the notion that STRs are to blame.
In his report, “Setting the Record Straight on Short-Term Rentals, Housing Affordability, and Misguided Government Market Interventions,” Peter tackles the argument that STRs reduce Hawaii’s housing supply and contribute to high rents by diverting much-needed units away from locals to tourists.
He contends government actions created the demand for STRs in the first place, and government regulatory failures “created housing unaffordability long before STRs even came into existence."
According to Peter, the "true culprit" of the housing shortage is “zoning laws, land-use regulations, and environmental laws that have been weaponized by ‘Not in my backyard’ residents.” Together, these elements have limited the amount of buildable land and buildable density primarily to single-family detached housing only.
Rather than targeting STRs, Peter suggests that it is time for government to “look in the mirror,” reevaluate its own policies, and simply make it easier to build more homes. To read his full report, go here.