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Inaugural Housing: Get Out of Dodge?

Have you heard about the guy who's renting out his Logan Circle apartment over the inauguration for a contribution to a charity he supports? He's not alone. Here's another one from craigslist: Rent a "Lake Tahoe-style" (?) home in Fairfax Station for a contribution to a Ugandan school. (You'll need to check soon, because craigslist ads generally expire after a few days.)

Another guy I heard about will serve guests breakfast every morning and chauffeur them from his Tysons Corner house to the Metro, all for a tax-deductible donation to affordable housing for the homeless.

The Unitarian-Universalist church my family attends is asking if members can put up Unitarians in town for the inauguration. Wrote the head of the church's "Inaugural B&B Committee": "By offering a spare bed in our homes, we will extend a warm hand to fellow UUs who want to participate in this historic inauguration AND help raise important revenue for our church's social justice projects, partner church project, and operating budget."

Great ideas all around, though do I wonder about the tax-deductibility some renters promise. If you get a good or service -- i.e., lodging -- can you really deduct it? But, as I said, a good idea. But there's a flip side to this, one that I was talking to a D.C. cab driver about yesterday. I asked him how he'd cope with Jan. 20, curious how a cabbie would deal with the expected inaugural gridlock. He surprised me with his answer. He probably wasn't going to work, he said. He wanted to experience this historic event, and if he couldn't see it in person, he'd pop a few cold brews and watch it on TV.

But what really intrigued me was what he said a friend of his was doing. "He lives in a good part of Southeast," the taxi driver said, "and he's renting his house for $2,500 and going to Vegas."

Screw history. Vegas, baby! I wonder how many people in and around D.C. are doing that, or something like it. If your house or apartment is near the inaugural action, or near public transportation, you could probably finance a pretty sweet getaway. Vegas. Aspen. Cozumel. You'd be leaving behind the anticipated chaos (have you heard: they expect 28 million people to be in Washington on Jan. 20, enough to be visible from space) and getting a free mid-winter vacation.

So are you doing this? Do you know someone who is? Do you think such a scheme is distasteful, or do you applaud such entrepreneurial activity? Let's hear about it in the "Commons" comments.

By John Kelly  |  December 16, 2008; 9:00 AM ET
 | Tags: inauguration  
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I'm definitely getting out of Dodge and heading for the sunshine, but, no plans for price gauging the rubes...but I wonder...could my utilitarian Cape be marketed as "a lovingly restored (hey the kitchen's pretty new) Martha's Vinyard style home for all seasons. Digital cable TV with lots of stations for change you can believe in"...yeah, thats the ticket.

Posted by: mfromalexva | December 16, 2008 9:44 AM | Report abuse

I can't believe the number of idiots that are renting their houses to complete strangers. Homeowner rents house...leaves town...renters invite a couple dozen other people to stay once homeowner leaves...cost to repair and replace missing or broken items will cost more than the homeowner made in rent...but hey, they will have encountered change!!

Posted by: justhere | December 17, 2008 8:34 AM | Report abuse

We're not renting or otherwise offering our home to visitors (we live in Prince William - a bit out of the way!). But we are getting out of Dodge. Working up in the city, my husband and I wanted no part of the gridlock and traffic nightmare that is coming. So, we're off to the islands!

Posted by: armygirl | December 17, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

If only...alas, my company is downtown but has me working and won't let me take vacation that day. Their reply to "but everyone's saying that it'll be dang near impossible to get in," you ask?

"We can be flexible in your timing. Metro opens at 4 that morning, feel free to come in early and leave early."


Posted by: | December 19, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

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