A young Jersey City woman who has had to endure some recent personal and financial struggles said that if it were not for the availability of a short-term rental, she could have been homeless in the street.
By Marc Bussanich/Hudson County View
Less than a week before Jersey City voters decide to support changes to the short-term rental community, where both camps are flooding the airwaves, mailboxes and social media in hopes of persuading voters that a yay or nay at the polls is critical.
This week, one Jersey City resident told us that if it weren’t for an Airbnb short-term rental, she could possibly be living on the street.
Kiarra Pepin, 21, unfortunately encountered a difficult situation when she said her live-in boyfriend began to abuse her in the summer, forcing her to leave her home unexpectedly.
She said she looked for an apartment in the McGinley Square and Journal Square neighborhoods, but the only affordable place she could find was a single room for $600 per month.
Additionally, she claims a hotel would have cost her anywhere from $100 to $300 per night, a sum she just couldn’t afford even though she was working full-time, further explaining why she was pessimistic about visiting a shelter.
“If I got accepted into the shelter, I worried about all the horror stories I was hearing of women being abused and even worse-case scenarios of rape, so that wasn’t an option for me,” said Pepin.
So with just a couple hundred of dollars in her pocket, she was able to locate a $25 per night Airbnb short-term rental hosted by Nathan Taylor, the Jersey City-based artist and host, who we interviewed recently.
“While I was there I was able to find a new job in Jersey City, and pick up the pieces. Nathan was a very hospitable host, providing support by encouraging me to think of some of the options I could explore for rebuilding my life. The short-term living arrangements really kept me from being homeless, and I don’t know where I’d be today without it,” Pepin stated, making it clear she would be voting no on Tuesday.
“If not for the Airbnb short-term rental, I wouldn’t have been able to walk into my solution, instead I would have had to wait either in a shelter or on the street.”
City spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione sympathized with Pepin, but noted that her circumstances made it clear that a yes vote was the only logical choice next week.
“Kiarra’s unfortunate circumstance is exactly why we need basic regulations for short-term rentals. Under the proposed regulations, Kiarra will still be able to rent exactly as she did through any home sharing site. In fact, Kiarra could continue to live in her rental, which has an on-site owner, 365 days a year under the proposed guidelines,” she explained.
“A vote YES on Tuesday will better serve local residents and will help filter the legitimate vacationers from the unlawful out-of-towners with no oversight compromising the safety and quality of life of their short-term neighbors. The guidelines will also help free up the housing stock and keep the housing market rate more affordable for people like Kiarra, rather than allowing investors to scoop up units and charge outlandish prices for short-term renting which ultimately drives up housing prices.”
The related ordinance, originally approved by the city council in June, initially created an annual 60-day cap on short-term rental properties if the owner is not on site, would have prohibited short-term rentals in buildings with more than four units, and stopped renters from serving as short-term rental hosts.