Airbnb host Brenda warmly welcomes guests to her second home in the Gentilly neighborhood. Brenda was born and raised in New Orleans and is proud to introduce travelers from all over the world to her house and city. “I’ve lived here all of my 66 years and I’ve owned this property for 32 years,” she says. “I went to public schools in New Orleans, and I enjoy showing my city to people.” When she moved in with her second husband, Brenda didn’t want to have to sell the house in which she raised her family. Hosting has enabled her to keep the home and support herself during retirement.
“I enjoy showing my city to people. It was a great place to raise a family.”
Brenda discovered Airbnb when she was helping move her daughter to Spain. “We stayed in this lady’s house and she was really nice to us, she even helped move my daughter into her residence. It was just the greatest experience and I thought ‘I could do that for somebody.” Now she does. When guests come to visit, Brenda gives them a welcome package with snacks and recommendations. She also makes sure they know where to go and how to enjoy the whole city. “I give them my little ‘Miss Brenda’ speech.”
“one of my guests said it was like he was staying at his favorite auntie’s house.”
Brenda loves to share her knowledge of local spots with guests and sends them to places that are not part of the typical New Orleans experience. “I always recommend that people go to the Lakefront Airport where private planes come in. There’s the cutest little restaurant there called Messina’s, they have the best pancakes in the world. Order two and you order too many because they are the size of a plate,” Brenda says with a laugh. “And then I recommend Sassafras, it’s where you can get the most authentic gumbo in New Orleans. They make authentic gumbo every day, every day from scratch.”
Brenda sees her guests supporting local businesses with the money they save by staying in her Airbnb. “The people who come stay with me, they may not have six hundred dollars to stay three days in a hotel downtown but what they do have, they will take all of that and spend it in New Orleans.”
“So [guests are] spending their money in the stores, and they’re adding to our economy.”
For Brenda, hosting is a way to keep her home and make ends meet. After a life-changing injury, Brenda had to retire early from her career. “I had surgery on my neck and I couldn’t work any longer.” After Katrina, her insurance rates and property taxes more than doubled. “With high water bills, electric bills, insurance payments and property taxes, what do you have left? Your friends and family, that’s what you have left.” Hosting has provided a vital source of income to pay for these large expenses.
“[hosting is] my only source of income, that and social security.”
Brenda is concerned that the City may decide to take this away from her. If the city permanently bans short-term rental permits for whole homes in residential areas, “it would be very regrettable, and I would be at a loss. Besides, I’m more concerned about how the city would make up that revenue, the revenue it gets from short term rentals. It would impact my income greatly. The frustration of it all is just too much.”
Ultimately, Brenda hopes the city makes a sensible decision to allow folks like her with temporary short-term rental permits, or second homes, to continue hosting their whole-home listings. “I hope they decide in favor of the individual homeowners, people who have lived here forever like me.” With fair and sensible short-term rental regulations, Brenda can continue to earn meaningful income to make ends meet, and continue to be an outstanding ambassador of her beautiful city.