Commenting on Home Sharing in the Blame AIRBNB Economy
By Emma Rosenthal (Dragonfly Team Member)
An early morning facebook message from fellow airbnb host, Leslie Hope, encouraged me to comment on an article in The Guardian, once more attacking home sharing and the platforms that make it possible. So I reluctantly and bleary eyed, found my way to the article and mustered up the outrage to respond. Here is the link to the article and the comment I posted:
Lawmakers join Elizabeth Warren’s call for US to ‘step in’ on illegal Airbnb hotels
The elephant in the living room is the hotel industry. “I just don’t think that local jurisdictions have the resources needed to go up against this corporate giant,” as opposed to the developers and hotel industry giants? It’s hard for city supervisors and council members to go after one industry when they’re in the pockets of a more established, more endowed industry? Going after airbnb at the root is exactly what most jurisdictions are doing, instead of going after the problem of abusive landlords and greedy development– enforcement many cities have neglected for years.
The truth is that if the so called housing rights advocates were sincere, they would also be campaigning to assure that those of us renting out rooms in our homes, were protected from their lobbying. But they don’t. Ordinances like the one attempted in San Francisco, and the one proposed in L.A. specifically dictate the relationships people can have in our own homes– how many nights, how many listings, etc. They would defend home sharing as a basic human right, labor right , housing right, senior right, women’s right and DISability right. (Because that’s who a lot of home sharers are.) They would demand that home sharing ordinances NOT target or impact individual home owners or renters. They would ally and organize (with) us. They would reach out to us (instead of ridiculing us and blocking doorways so we can’t get into public hearings).
This is a battle between the hotel industry and home sharing, and while the rhetoric goes after greedy landlords, the impact is just as displacing as any other strategy of gentrification with many of us facing displacement from communities we’ve lived in for years. Many of us (again, a labor issue) are retired teachers who have provided education and emotional labor to generations of children.
Home sharing is hard work, domestic labor, daily 24/7 labor, and in a desperate housing shortage and job shortage economy, deserves support.
Go after the greedy, abusive landlords, but also monitor the developers who are destroying affordable and family homes all over Los Angeles and other cities, but don’t tell us who we can entertain in our own homes, how long a rental agreement to engage in in our own homes, and how many rooms we can rent out at a time, again, in our own homes.
Additionally, the issue of taxes. In Los Angeles, small businesses pay no taxes or licensing fees, except the bnbs, who are now taxes at 14%. It’s one thing to tell big hotels who have had huge impacts on entire neighborhoods, that they need to give back to the communities they take from, and another to pretend that airbnb hosts are criminals and illegal. Regardless, the taxes collected now by airbnb and given to the city provide a unique financial opportunity to the city to address some of its greatest needs and any limitation on home sharing (not talking about greedy landlords, here, but actual home sharing), cuts back on those revenues.
It should be pointed out that airbnb takes only 6-12% from every airbnb reservation, leaving a whopping 88-92% in the communities where people stay. This is an incredible opportunity for people in a city to create jobs (via home sharing) and support other local businesses.
That the hotel industry got ahead of everyone in the way they portray home sharing, is devastating to communities, many of which benefit from and gain stability against gentrification and displacement via home sharing.