NEW EASTSIDE — Mayor Rahm Emanuel touted an increased tax on home-sharing businesses like Airbnb Monday as a way to permanently fund housing for the homeless.
"The effort here is to give homeless people a home," Emanuel said in a news conference on Lower Lower Wacker Drive. "I would like to do more," he added, and increasing a tax surcharge on rentals from 2 percent to 4 percent would double the money raised from $1 million to $2 million and potentially help 300-400 families.
"I believe we have a new industry emerging called Airbnb," Emanuel said. Acknowledging home-sharing rentals were "competing with hotels," he took no position on favoring one or the other, adding, "People will choose."
Yet he immediately embraced the increased revenue, calling it "a resource for permanent funding to address the concerns of homelessness, so people who are living under bridges, living under Lower Wacker, we can provide them a shelter" and social services "to literally give them a home."
The proposal was submitted by Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) at the April City Council meeting and was immediately signed by 13 aldermen. According to published reports over the weekend, Emanuel will push for it to be approved this month.
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