While data are difficult to come by, New Orleans has been attracting an increasing number of young people, something the city had trouble doing in the decades before Katrina. Tulane University geographer Rich Campanella has estimated that between 15,000 and 20,000 young people, whom he has referred to as “idealistic millennials,” have settled in the city, in the process making New Orleans a hot destination among recent college graduates.At least, that's the most common denominator among the newcomers. In reality, "15,000-20,000" young people aren't likely to fit into any one ideological category. That would constitute a political movement. Mostly what you see in New Orleans politics these days is apathy. Also, those numbers are probably grossly overstated.
While the influx has generally been welcomed by city officials and municipal boosters, it also has sparked complaints that New Orleans is becoming harder to afford for some of those who have long called it home.
Plus, one wonders how the census estimates population while accounting for the fact that a growing percentage of people staying in New Orleans don't actually live here.
Hotels are filling up fast and listings on sites like Craigslist are being added every day. But these private, short-term rentals are illegal in New Orleans.Maybe vacation rental is a kind of ideology too. If you've ever seen a timeshare sales presentation, you wouldn't doubt it.
"Some people genuinely don't know that it's illegal, but a lot of people do and we just need to make sure that everyone - even the people who aren't doing it but whose neighbors are doing it - are aware that it's not permitted," says Meg Lousteau, Executive Director of Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents and Associations, or VCPORA.
Lousteau says illegal short-term rentals have long been a problem in the French Quarter, one that's only getting worse with sites like Airbnb.
"There's definitely been an uptick, and we're seeing it spread to other neighborhoods," she says. "We get calls all the time from neighborhoods around town - Marigny, Treme, Bywater, Faubourg St. John, Uptown, Algiers Point - where neighbors are horrified to find out that the cute little house next to them that used to house a family is now being rented out to college kids for spring break."
VCPORA members estimate that the city loses about $1.4 million in taxes and licensing fees each year to illegal rentals.