BUSINESS

Housing Agency's Solution To Canada's Rental Crisis? Airbnb

The CMHC says short-term rental companies could help bring down rents.

10/03/2017 12:55 EDT | Updated 10/03/2017 13:07 EDT
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The Airbnb company logo is displayed on the screen of an Apple iPhone 6 on September 08, 2017 in Paris, France. The head of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says he believes short-term rental companies like Airbnb and Vacation Rental By Owner could help increase rental supply in the country and, in turn, possibly reduce rents.

OTTAWA — Canada's housing agency is looking to an unlikely ally in a bid to boost the stock of affordable rental housing: Airbnb.

The head of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says he believes short-term rental companies like Airbnb and Vacation Rental By Owner could help increase rental supply in the country and, in turn, possibly reduce rents.

The government's upcoming national housing strategy will have a heavy focus on increasing the supply of affordable housing options, including rental units, and Airbnb alone offers the potential for tens of thousands of units.

Watch: Canada has among world's highest rates of unaffordable rental costs

Evan Siddall, CMHC's chief executive, believes room-sharing companies could give policy makers some social utility by finding ways to turn those short-term rentals into long-term rentals.

The housing agency recently approached Airbnb about how to make that happen, although Siddall cautions it is still early days.

Lindsey Scully, a spokeswoman for Airbnb, says the company takes the issue of affordable housing seriously and is speaking with potential partners about ways to "create economic opportunity for everyday people."

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