This patchy map of the Houston region, from the national tool released last week by Airbnb, shades the area’s zip codes by what percentage of monthly rent could purportedly be covered by a single night of Airbnb rental. The map is the DIY-hotel company’s submission to this spring’s federal call for more public data tools related to housing and economics. And the rental rates used for the comparison come from the so-called small area fair market rates set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which this summer proposed breaking up the flat city-wide rates currently used for Section 8 housing voucher payouts into smaller pieces (with the intent that offering higher subsidy rates in higher income areas might reverse a trend of concentrating housing voucher recipients into already-high-poverty neighborhoods).
Topping the company’s list in Houston is 77018, the quasi-trapezoid covering much of the Garden Oaks and Oak Forest area; the tool says the federal market rental rate for the zone is $830 per month, but that earnings for renting out a private room in the area via Airbnb average around 22 percent of that amount, or $179 a night:
Here’s a more complete version of the short video posted by the Houston Press yesterday, showing a few problems with apartment 2105 at the Crescent Park Apartments at 2310 Crescent Park Dr. (near Westheimer and Kirkwood), home to Quiana Brown and her daughter for a little more than a year. The tenant’s mother, Eugenia Brown, who’s narrating, tells reporter Paul Knight she “doesn’t understand why one part of the government pays for an apartment that another part says isn’t fit to live in”: She says the apartment has failed several inspections by the Harris County Housing Authority, but apparently that hasn’t affected the apartment managers’ ability to continue to collect federal funds: According to Knight, Quiana Brown pays the $640 monthly rent with Section 8 vouchers.
Eugenia Brown says her daughter has requested to switch apartments several times. (In a separate series of hazy YouTube videos from earlier this month, Eugenia Brown documents similar unrepaired conditions in her own apartment in the complex, No. 1502 — including daily refrigerator and dishwasher leaks, sparking light switches, and combustion-friendly fixtures.) Strangely, none of the documented problems are evident in this promotional video for the apartment complex, produced almost 3 years ago: