Mother and daughter turn to home sharing to welcome guests and maintain their family home

Meet Vilna and Lois: longtime New Orleans residents and passionate Airbnb co-hosts. The mother and daughter duo host guests on Airbnb in a separate apartment right next to Vilna’s primary residence in New Orleans’ 7th Ward that’s been in their family for over 20 years. “I was the first resident in the space,” says Lois. “This is a family property, we never did long-term rentals. [Having family from] another country, it’s good to have an extra place to put them up when they come into town.”

“This is a family property.”

Vilna and Lois have lived in New Orleans for 38 years. The city, and their family home, both hold a special place in their hearts. “I was one of the first residents to return to this neighborhood after Hurricane Katrina,” says Vilna. “It was a very trying experience to rebuild. Everything was so torn apart. But we came back, we rebuilt, and I just love this city.”

“I know what [guests] want and I also think about what I look forward to when I travel.”

Vilna has a long history of working in the hospitality industry, making hosting a perfect fit. “It was a natural thing for me to start [hosting],” she says. “I know what [guests] want and I also think about what I look forward to when I travel, so we incorporated both of those into the apartment and it’s worked for us.”

Vilna lives on the property and is available to greet and interact with guests. “Almost every evening she comes out and waters the plants, keeps the scenery looking nice and neat,” say Lois. “So at times she’ll see [guests] coming and going, and she’ll ask them how it’s going.”

“The extra income really helps me out.”

Both women love welcoming guests to their city. “I enjoy it tremendously,” says Lois. “Basically you are an ambassador, you are showing off this city. I hardly had anyone who didn’t enjoy the city or have a good experience. So to me it is something that I like doing.” Located in the heart of the city, guests have access to all New Orleans has to offer. “You gotta go to Cafe Du Monde, you gotta try the chicory, you gotta try the beignets,” says Vilna. “I really like Frenchmen Street because they have a live band-type environment. To me that’s the total behind-the-scenes of New Orleans nightlife.”

The income from hosting has been really helpful for both Vilna and Lois. “The extra income really helps me out,” says Lois. “My family and I were able to travel and spend some time with my 97-year old grandmother. So it does help us enjoy home away from home.” For Vilna, the income helps offset the rising costs of living in the city. “My extra income comes in handy for me to pay my property and city taxes,” she says. “Insurance after Katrina more than doubled, so this really helps fill that gap from the increase from flood insurance, homeowners insurance; everything in the city is going up so it really does offset a lot of those costs that folks have been experiencing in the last few years.”

“If [the city] takes this away, this would hurt a lot of people.”

The City is considering new regulations for short-term rentals, particularly temporary short-term rentals, or second homes, like Lois and Vilna’s. The women both believe home sharing benefits the city, and especially its senior residents. “Unfortunately you work all these years, but then you realize you don’t have enough money to live on,” says Vilna. “To me, this was just like a godsend, when I got into and realized I could make some extra money renting out my apartment. I told myself this is what I’ll be doing in my retirement, which is not too far off.” “If [the city] takes this away, this would hurt a lot of people,” adds Lois. “Airbnb is helping a lot of people. I work in Human Resources and there are so many people that call us every day looking for a job. So if you can do Airbnb, that is a way of generating income.”

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