State data shows that short-term rentals can impact long-term rental options

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) – In the summer of 2021, Renae Shockley uprooted her family of five and moved from Nevada to Fairbanks after accepting a new job offer. For three months, Shockley and her family searched for a place to rent.

“There was nothing available that was big enough,” Shockley said. “Everything was either seasonal, full, or sorry you have so many pets.”

In June, the family arrived in Fairbanks without a place to live. When they could not find a place to live, the family camped for three weeks.

“We were homeless the first month,” Shockley said. “We had three sources of income, and we had nowhere to live because there was nothing available.”

This isn’t just happening in Fairbanks — the Department of Labor and Workforce Development reports that low vacancy rates are limiting renters across the state.

In Ketchikan, Heather Williams was experiencing a similar situation to Shockley. In the fall of 2022, Williams struggled to find a place to move to after the lease on her two-bedroom apartment expired. With nothing available in the market, she was forced to live in her car with her dog for several months during the winter.

“The hardest thing is telling myself to keep going,” Williams said.

From November 2022 to late April of this year, Williams searched for a place to live.

“Probably for the first four months, he was nowhere to be found,” Williams said. “We probably went through half a dozen projects that they said I couldn’t move into because of the price.”

Statewide, Alaska saw a 7% increase in rental prices, according to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The Ketchikan Gateway area, where Williams lives, saw the biggest jump in rental prices. The cost of a two-bedroom apartment jumped by 16% compared to 2022.

But in addition to rental prices, Williams said, short-term rentals have made it difficult for her to find available and affordable housing.

“A whole bunch of them showed up, which were one-bedrooms and two-bedrooms, a lot of cottages, a lot of condos. I saw a lot of familiar apartments advertised on Airbnb that were condos,” Williams said.

The Department of Labor and Workforce Development said data on short-term rentals in Alaska is very limited.

“It is not clear how many units in Alaska are moving from long-term to short-term, but national studies have found that in other parts of the country, short-term rentals can deplete the inventory of long-term rentals,” the department said. In the economic trends report.

In Fairbanks, Shockley said short-term rentals made it difficult for her to find a place to live.

“All I could find was this short one, no more than a month because it’s Airbnb. The price is too high, so with three incomes we couldn’t do it,” Shockley said.

According to the Alaska Department of Labor, Airbnb could limit the supply of long-term rentals.

“My husband thinks tourism causes homelessness because everything goes to Airbnb and there is nothing available for those who live here,” Shockley said.

Williams said she was able to find a one-bedroom apartment to rent with her dog at the end of May. She currently pays $1,500 in rent — $250 more than before — but she said she’s lucky. While in Fairbanks, Shockley and her family were able to purchase a home.

Alaska News Source has reached out to VRBO and Airbnb for comment on this matter. Airbnb said it was working on a statement.

(Tags for translation)Alaska Department of Labor

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