The vacationing couple from Hattingen, Germany, showed up at Michael Naess’s shipshape Queens apartment at the end of February. They had never met before. Nonetheless, here they were, digging into scrambled eggs, sipping coffee and chatting companionably with him on a Saturday morning. A German radio station, plucked from the Internet, rendered a flavor of home.
Over the past 10 months, Mr. Naess has had a parade of 72 strangers living with him, respondents to his overture of: “Beautiful room for rent in Astoria” on the website Airbnb. They have drunk his beer and indulged in his muffins and dirtied his guest towels. They have come from Italy, Canada, India, South Korea, Belgium, France, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and so on and so forth. Among the so forth are the domestic bookings: Austin, Tex.; Waterloo, Calif.; and Washington, D.C. Members of this international bazaar, usually in pairs, have stayed from two nights to a month. Mr. Naess may bump into them in the mornings; then they might intersect in the evenings, decompressing together in the living room. For the most part, they glide past one another.
This is life as a hyperactive New York City “host” in that swelling substratum of the hospitality industry that unfolds in people’s homes, all part of the modern world’s sharing economy, spinning by with serial comings and goings.
Some things to know about Mr. Naess. He is 37, Texas-born, tall and lean, a sunny, genial man with an endlessly repeating smile. He is one of close to 350,000 hosts worldwide on Airbnb, the short-term home rental company that matches those with rooms to let and those who want to rent them in 35,000 cities. In New York, Mr. Naess is among 15,000 hosts listed on Airbnb, and easily among the busiest individual ones.
Some things to know about hosts. By and large, they do not accept strangers in their homes because they relish phenomenal amounts of company or washing soiled bedsheets. They do it for the money.
Well, duh. Aren't these people special? They rent out their spare bedrooms instead of taking on roommates, making it harder and harder for people to find decently priced housing. Then they whine that they have to do it in order to be able to afford their place. I'm sure they report all their extra income to the IRS as well. In the meantime, we have the mayor about to supersize low-rise neighborhoods because there isn't enough "affordable housing".