After criticism that Airbnb was not doing enough to make Black renters feel welcome, the home-sharing site’s program recruiting Black hosts has reportedly flourished.
Over the past year, Airbnb has drawn a ton of scrutiny over its policies that had caused minority renters to experience discrimination when trying to use the site. One of the most notable incidents happened in April 2018 after Donisha Prendergast, daughter of Bob Marley, and two friends were harassed by police after neighbors of their Airbnb called them. Video of the incident went viral.
Other Black users expressed having their bookings canceled after hosts learned of their race. A Harvard Business School study found that Airbnb hosts were 16 percent less likely to accept bookings from people with “Black-sounding” names. These types of practices led to policy changes within the company, including one where hosts are prohibited from seeing photos of a renter prior to them accepting a booking to prevent any discrimination from taking place.
Two years ago, Airbnb enlisted the help of the NAACP to assist with the recruitment of more Black hosts and increase workplace diversity.
The recruitment program first began in Miami and Los Angeles and it is now hitting Atlanta this spring as the city has a reputation of being a prime destination for Black travelers and transplants.
“Atlanta is a top-tier city with the world’s busiest airport, so the amount of traffic coming to and from Atlanta is unrivaled,” Janaye Ingram, who is Airbnb’s director of national partnerships, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) recently. “Atlanta draws a lot of attention, not just from the United States, but globally.”
Ingram, who has previously served as the national executive director of the National Action Network, also noted that there would be a lot of money made in these communities as Airbnb hosts keep 97 percent of their earnings.
In addition to the recruitment of Black hosts, several local NAACP chapters were working with Airbnb to create an economic campaign that will educate the Black community about becoming hosts and bringing travelers to their neighborhoods. This program is set to launch soon and, according to AJC, Airbnb will share 20 percent of its earnings from this outreach.
“This partnership with Airbnb in Atlanta will help ensure that African Americans and communities of color have opportunities to earn valuable extra income,” Marvin Owens Jr., the NAACP’s senior director of economic programs, said.
Atlanta hosts Justin and Charalaina Heard said they were initially skeptical about listing their properties on the site.
“We decided to go ahead and do it, because people need to see that representation,” Charalaina told AJC. The couple has since made more than $43,000 between May 2018 and December 31.
Along with the help of the NAACP, Airbnb tapped former Attorney General Eric Holder to assist with creating an anti-discrimination policy.