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Airbnb Hosts In Chicago Made $67 Million In 2016, Company Says

By  Heather Cherone and Tanveer Ali | May 4, 2017 5:57am | Updated on May 5, 2017 11:33am

 A map complied by Airbnb shows where hotels — represented by purple dots — are located, as compared with blue dots representing listings on Airbnb.
A map complied by Airbnb shows where hotels — represented by purple dots — are located, as compared with blue dots representing listings on Airbnb.
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Airbnb

CHICAGO — Chicagoans who rent out their homes and apartments via Airbnb earned $67 million in 2016, according to a report compiled by the home-sharing service designed to spotlight the boost the firm has given Chicago's economy.

The San Francisco-based company had a total economic impact of $331 million on Chicago in 2016, according to the report.

Typical hosts — who rent out their home or a portion of it — earned $4,100 in 2016, according to the company. In all, 7,600 Chicagoans rented their property through the service used by another 103,000 Chicagoans to find a place to stay, according to the report provided to DNAinfo.

In addition, 390,000 people who traveled to Chicago used Airbnb to find a place to stay for an average of 3.3 nights, according to the company. Eighty-five percent of those who use Airbnb chose it over a hotel in an effort to "live like a local."

"Responsible home sharing is a new engine for Chicago tourism and the economy," according to a statement from the company. "Airbnb grows the tourism pie, attracting many guests who might otherwise not have come, or been able to stay as long."

The company's report highlights Airbnb's impact on Chicago's South Side, where the number of guests who found a place to stay through Airbnb rose 135 percent from 2015 to 2016, company spokesman Ben Breit said.

"Airbnb is disproportionately bringing economics to communities like the South Side that have not typically benefited from tourism due to the lack of hotels," Breit said. "Neighborhoods like Grand Boulevard, Woodlawn and Armour Square are among the fastest growing parts of our host community."

South Side hosts earned $3.7 million in 2016, according to the report.

The most lucrative neighborhood for hosts featured in the report is Bronzeville, where the typical host earned on average $10,900 in 2016, according to the report.

The report compiled by the company was released as new regulations on home-sharing services take effect, forcing hosts to be licensed by the city, pay an extra tax and limit the number of units in buildings that can be rented out.

The new regulations were delayed for months after they faced two legal challenges — one in state court filed by the Chicago-based Liberty Justice Center and another filed in federal court by Keep Chicago Livable, a group made up of homeowners who oppose the new rules and have appealed a judge's decision to toss the group's lawsuit.

The revenue from the 4 percent tax is expected to generate $2.5 million to $3 million that is earmarked to fight homelessness in Chicago, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel said $1 million from that tax would be used this summer to house 100 families.

The owner of a Bronzeville condominium who rents out two spare rooms said she earned $26,000 in 2016. A member of Keep Chicago Livable, the host did not want to be identified by DNAinfo for fear of jeopardizing her application with the city for a license by acknowledging she was using the home-sharing service without permission.

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The woman said she used her income from Airbnb to pay off medical bills she racked up when she got sick but did not have insurance.

Most of the people who stay with her are in Chicago to attend conventions at McCormick Place, which is nearby, or students applying to medical school at the University of Illinois-Chicago, which is about 20 minutes away via the CTA Green Line, the Bronzeville host said.

"I was nervous at the beginning, but it has been a great experience," she said. "But I had two spare rooms, and I thought I should do something with them."

The host said she also relishes the role she plays in combating stereotypes about Chicago's South Side by giving people from all over the world a chance to experience it for themselves.

Citing a 2016 survey, the company said the average guest spends $205 per day while in Chicago — 40 percent in the neighborhood where they are staying.

Sixty-two percent of Chicago Airbnb listings are for an entire house, according to the report. Eighty-three percent of Airbnb hosts rent their primary residence, according to the report.

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