Short-Term Rentals And Nantucket's Housing Crisis

Chuck Davis •

To the editor: At the Meet the Articles event sponsored by the Nantucket Civic League this past weekend, in discussing his article 59, Steven Cohen stated, “The idea that short-term rentals are related to at all or an exacerbation of the housing crisis that we have on Nantucket is really a sad misappropriation of that crisis. And the people who say it should be ashamed of themselves because there is no affordable housing that’s going to be created by banning STRs or limiting STRs. There is no accessible housing that is going to be created by it."

What is shameful is to ignore the impact of STRs on the housing crisis by offering a “red herring.” Mr. Cohen argues that we should not limit commercial STRs because working-class people can’t afford to buy here anyway. But this sentiment misses the point. This isn’t about bringing the market value of houses down, it’s about offering housing alternatives that used to be available, such as long-term rentals.

I suspect that the vast majority of people on this island know of a person who has lost their long-term rental to a short-term rental conversion. According to the U.S. Census, Nantucket has lost over 600 long-term rentals over the last decade. Our nurses and public servants such as teachers, police, firefighters and other residents and workers deserve better.

What is truly shameful and damaging is Mr. Cohen’s article (59) on the warrant for the May 7 Annual Town Meeting. It would permit short-term rentals everywhere as a primary use. If that passes, it would destroy Nantucket’s neighborhoods and housing stock for good.

Chuck Davis

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