Airbnb has been dragged on social media for claims of racism after Black people found they were either being locked out of opportunities to lease, racially profiled by hosts and their neighbors or had difficulty renting their properties just because they were Black.
And the hashtag #airbnbwhileblack put the company under a critical eye after dozens of troubling stories surfaced chronicling the discriminatory experiences Black people faced dealing with the short-term rental company.
Three years ago, a Harvard Business School study revealed “Airbnb hosts were 16 percent less likely to accept people with “black” sounding names as guests.”
As Airbnb struggled to make amends and diversify its pool of renters they turned to the NAACP to create a program that helped bring diversity to its ranks in communities in Miami and Los Angeles first and most recently, Atlanta, The AJC reports.
The company is now seeing some semblance of success— one case in point is the Black couple Justin and Charalaina Heard who shared their story with the AJC about how they decided to rent their bungalow on the Airbnb site.
The couple struggled with deciding whether to include a photo, believing that they’d be discriminated against because they’re Black.
“We thought, they are going to see that we are black and not want to rent from us?” Justin Heard said.
“But,” his wife added, “we decided to go ahead and do it, because people need to see that representation.”
The Heards’ business has boomed and less than a year after listing their property with Airbnb they are basking in the bucks after earning more than $40,000!
They exemplify just what Airbnb and the NAACP wants to see happen for people of color who partner with the short-term rental company.
Janaye Ingram, Airbnb’s director of national partnerships, said the program to diversify was started after she worked with Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network as its executive director.
Ingram considers Atlanta a great market because of its reputation as a hub for Black excellence.
“Atlanta is a top-tier city with the world’s busiest airport, so the amount of traffic coming to and from Atlanta is unrivaled,” Ingram, said. “Atlanta draws a lot of attention, not just from the United States, but globally.”
Airbnb hosts keep 97 percent of what they earn, she said.
“That is a lot of money that is being driven into the community,” said Ingram, a 2000 graduate of Clark Atlanta University. “This is a way that you can monetize your assets. It is a way for you to become an entrepreneur. It really is this notion of economic justice.”