Airbnb is a popular website and app that allows people to find rooms for rent in hundreds of cities around the world.
One St. Louis listing is not sugar-coating its amenities. On its Airbnb profile, the owners wrote that the unit is in a “not so great neighborhood near Fairground Park,” and “it provides a unique glimpse into life in a working-class, low-income neighborhood, a mismanaged Midwest City, and decades of urban decay. Abundance of vacant houses and abandoned buildings nearby for UrbEx adventures.” But they promised that it’s “perfect for an intrepid traveler who enjoys living on the edge.”
Natalie Vowell and her husband bought the four-family apartment complex last summer. She said the idea is to welcome guests to North St. Louis. Room and board is $29 per night.
Vowell said this has also been a refuge for victims of gun violence and domestic abuse. In these cases, she’s happy to rent it free of charge. The purpose of this Airbnb is not to make money, she said. Rather, the best use is to help people find a cheap place to stay.
“We want to welcome people to North St. Louis so that it’s not just North St. Louis is bad or St. Louis is scary and there’s high crime," Vowell said. "Because there’s really good people that live here. The people in the building are great, the people on the block. I’ve got friends over here on Harris.”
Vowell said she is encouraging other property owners north of Delmar to start opening their own Airbnbs.