AIrbnb has launched a new community commitment to deal with issues of discrimination.

Airbnb pledges to reduce discrimination with community commitment

The online vacation rental broker has announced a new initiative to crack down on discriminatory hosts.

Online vacation rental broker Airbnb is taking steps to reduce discriminatory rental practices.

The company introduced a ‘community commitment,’ which states that users of the service agree to treat protected classes, which include race, sex, sexual orientation and gender identity without judgement or bias. B.C.’s Human Rights Code states similar protected classes.

CJ Rowe, the executive director of Qmunity, a Vancouver-based non-profit that works to improve life in queer, trans and two-spirit communities, views it as a positive first step.

“I think the clearer we can be with intentions and explicit policy the stronger a company like Airbnb can be in terms of the next steps,” said Rowe.

The community commitment comes on the heels of numerous stories of discriminatory renting practices by Airbnb hosts in cities like Texas and Edmonton where hosts were accused of refusing service to racial minorities and LGBT renters.

While Rowe’s friend group hasn’t experienced examples of Airbnb host discrimination, Row says there’s likely a reason—decades of having to look after themselves in a world that hasn’t always been friendly.

“I think there’s a lot of us in queer, trans  and two-spirit communities that do a bit of investigation and look at postings that are queer trans and two-spirit friendly,” said Rowe, noting that there’s hope that the gay community will one day no longer have to do that.

“Wouldn’t it be better if everyone knew how to enact respectful businesses?”

Rowe is interested to see what Airbnb does to make the community commitment stick—noting that organizations like Qmunity already engage in education and training in queer competency.

“I would love to see them engage with an educational campaign. I often see community commitments the same as when you download the new update for iTunes and you click agree without reading it.”

This isn’t the only issue Airbnb has run into lately. The company has been criticized for flooding the market with short-term rentals, causing a shortage in long-term ones. Vancouver apartment vacancy rates dropped to 0.8 per cent last year, spurring Coun. Geoff Meggs to expand and accelerate a study already underway by city staff on the effect Airbnb and similar websites are having on the supply of rental housing.

Airbnb’s public policy manager, Alex Dagg, pledged to work with communities to reduce his company’s negative impact on rental markets.

But Airbnb argues that they’ve been good for the economy—saying that the money hosts make off of renting out their properties helps local economies.

An economic impact study by University of Victoria business professor Brock Smith for Airbnb found that the 267,000 Airbnb guests who stayed in Vancouver in the 12 months ending on Aug. 31 spent close to $180,000 at local businesses and generated more than $400,000 in indirect economic activity.

@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police watchdog investigating death of man in Delta

Independent Investigations Office asking for witnesses to May 29 incident at Tsawwassen ferry terminal

Love flourishes at Peace Arch Park, but COVID-19 concerns loom

South Surrey park becomes only place for international couples to meet

Human Rights Tribunal denies church’s request to toss out White Rock Pride Society’s complaint

Star of the Sea and White Rock Pride Society to go to Human Rights Tribunal hearing

UPDATE: Missing 12-year-old boy found, Surrey RCMP say

Landon Vangeel-Morgan was last seen 9:14 p.m., May 30 near 96 Avenue and 150 Street

COVID-19: Daily update on pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

Provincial Health Officer officially bans overnight kids’ camps this summer

VIDEO: Injured bald eagle rescued in B.C. First Nations community

Bird suspected injured in fight, whisked off to Coquitlam rehab

Toronto Raptors’ Ujiri says conversations about racism can no longer be avoided

Thousands have protested Floyd’s death and repeated police killings of black men across the United States

B.C.’s Central Kootenay region declares state of emergency, issues evacuation orders

The evacuation alert covers all areas except the Cities of Castelgar and Nelson

‘I’m afraid’: Witnesses of wolf attack on senior near Prince Rupert worried about safety

Frank Russ shows where the unprovoked wolf attacked his father

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Importance of accurate, ethical reporting more critical than ever

Protesters prepare to rally against racism in front of Vancouver Art Gallery

Rally is in response to the deaths of black Americans and a Toronto woman

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Feds earmark $1.5M to support recovery of B.C., Indigenous tourism

B.C. money will be split between Vancouver Island and Indigenous tourism

‘We’re sick of it’: Anger over police killings shatters U.S.

Tens of thousands marched to protest the death of George Floyd

Most Read