Have a room to rent? Don’t expect windfalls during papal visit to Philly

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Philadelphians who have space available for travelers to the city during the visit of Pope Francis and the World Meeting of Families in September now have a place to advertise those accommodations.

The service is not for those looking for a big payoff.

With only 11,000 hotel rooms in Philadelphia, the Catholic Archdiocese has tapped Homestay.com to connect visitors with locals who have a spare room. Some of the expected 2 million visitors will prefer avoiding a hotel, said Alan Clarke of Homestay.

“What we find is that the appetite to host and be hosted is a global phenomenon, but it delivers a local experience,” he said.

During other events in other cities, Clarke said visitors paid an average of $40 per night.

“A guest would look to make a booking, they would pay a deposit up front of 10 percent of the stay,” he explained. “But the price per night is really being set by the host family.”

Renting out a room — whether with Homestay.com or through AirBnB.com and other services —  occupies a gray area in Philly. While technically not illegal, zoning laws bar it in most neighborhoods.

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