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Airbnb tax raises $2.9 million for Chicago homeless services

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Last year about half a million people used Airbnb in Chicago

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The 4 percent surcharge tacked onto every Airbnb booking in Chicago earned the city $6.1 million in tax revenue in 2017. And $2.9 million of that will directly fund services focused providing support or finding housing for the homeless people and families in the city, according to Airbnb.

The remaining portion that isn’t earmarked for homeless support services, is used to enforce the Shared Housing Ordinance, which includes regulations for hosts as well as the tax aimed at helping the homeless. Although the ordinance faced a bit of resistance and the city was slow to roll it out, the regulation appears to be on solid footing now.

Last year the city announced it would use the revenue to fund the Housing the Homeless Program which plans to help 100 homeless families find permanent housing.

“At Catholic Charities, every 30 seconds we have someone needing our support and help,” said Monsignor Michael Boland, president and CEO of Catholic Charities in a statement. “They are 1 million of our most vulnerable neighbors, many of whom are homeless or at risk of homelessness. This revenue has allowed us to deepen our services and provide stability to homeless families and those most at risk of homelessness as we lift them up on their paths to self-sufficiency.”

Taking a look at 2017, about half a million people chose to book places to stay with Airbnb in Chicago. That equals out to $77 million in income for hosts and generates an economic impact worth $345 million for the city, according to the company’s estimates.

Guests at Airbnb homes spent an average of $171 per day last year, which translates into $270 million, often at nearby places that hosts recommend. Some of the most recommended places include Big Star in Wicker Park, Bang Bang Pie in Logan Square, The Green Mill in Uptown and Dusek’s Board and Beer in Pilsen.