As a single mother living in D.C., being able to provide for and protect my family is my main concern. I like knowing my neighbors and the members of my community who live and work near me. Keeping my neighborhood safe and thriving is essential to me as I raise my children in our vibrant city.

That’s why I am so disheartened to see my community teeming with commercial operators running what are basically illegal hotels out of residential homes and apartments. Every day, I see more and more strangers coming in and out of what used to be residential units, creating a revolving door of people with no attachment to our community.

Yukia Hugee

That isn’t creating a safer neighborhood for me or my family – it’s breaking it down.

To be perfectly clear, I fully support the concept of true home sharing. Creating opportunities for individuals to rent out their homes to generate extra income for their families is good for the economy and for our communities.

But this is not what these commercial operators are doing. These commercial operators, including big businesses and hedge funds, are intruding upon communities by buying entire areas to run illegal hotels on the Airbnb platform. This money isn’t going to the new couple that moved down the street or the local teachers that are enriching my children’s lives. It’s going straight into those executives’ pockets, while simultaneously robbing us of affordable housing – in an area where housing prices are already sky-high.

Working families are forced from their homes as subsidized or rent-assisted properties become less available and rent prices increase. Not only that, but these illegal hotels don’t bring in any local tax revenue, which means less money for social programs in our communities.

For some of us, the sharing economy can help to better provide for our families. However, these commercial operators buying up affordable housing across the city is actually putting great strain on hardworking families throughout D.C. that must make tough decisions each month between covering housing costs and providing for their families.

In fact, the median rent in Airbnb’s top 20 D.C. neighborhoods grew by 15 percent in 2016.

This hardship on our communities will only intensify if commercial operators are left unregulated. That’s why it’s so important for the D.C. Council to support and pass the Short-Term Rental Regulation and Affordable Housing Protection Act of 2017. It is my hope that our representation in City Hall will stand up for those of us working multiple jobs just to pay our rent by addressing the many illegal hotels plaguing our neighborhoods and driving up rent costs. This would allow for true home sharing and help to strengthen our communities, patching up the recent damage that has been done by these commercial operators.

As a single mother, I am one of the demographics most affected by these illegal hotels and suffering the consequences of having less safe and affordable housing options for my family. It’s time for our Councilmembers to address this abuse of home sharing systems and pass common-sense legislation to address this problem hurting their constituents, lifelong D.C. residents.

Yukia Hugee is a lifelong D.C. resident and a service provider for the New Communities Initiative, a District government program designed to revitalize severely distressed subsidized housing and redevelop communities plagued with concentrated poverty, high crime and economic segregation.