The Rio Olympics start tomorrow and Airbnb has taken more than 66,000 bookings all over the city, including in Rio’s favelas, home to millions of low-income Brazilians without access to social services, schools or hospitals.
This is a huge problem. First of all, these rooms are available far below hotel rates with none of the regulations and safety measures hotels and hostels are obligated to obey -- and for good reason. Airbnb wants to rewrite public policy on its own terms -- no matter what the public says.
Second, tourist locations all over the world have seen low-income housing snapped up and converted into short-term rentals for a bigger profit. And that’s exactly what’s happening in Rio’s notorious favelas. In fact, Berlin virtually banned Airbnb for exactly this reason: to protect its housing for Berliners who need it.
No one is speaking up for Rio’s poorest, so it’s up to us. Tell Airbnb to stop turning eviction into an Olympic sport.
It may not seem like it, but Airbnb is the epitome of the kind of corporation SumOfUs was set up fight. It’s huge -- Forbes estimated CEO Joe Gebbia’s net worth at $3.3 billion -- it’s reckless and it’s arrogant. It plays fast and loose with hospitality standards that have literally been centuries in the making and last year it was forced to apologize after releasing a bunch of sneering ads bragging that it paid taxes -- you know, what corporations are supposed to do -- except Airbnb doesn’t even pay the taxes. Its hosts do.
Worse, Airbnb has been blamed for pushing out low-income and marginalized residents as landlords realized they could make more money on short-term rentals than leasing to people who actually live in the city. New York, Vancouver, San Francisco, London, Berlin -- all over the world. And when city councils call it out, Airbnb uses strong-arm tactics to get its way -- lawsuits, lobbyists, even flying in fake “community organizers” to cities considering restrictions in order to build support.
Will you join our call to Airbnb and stop it from fighting regulation that protects housing for low-income people?
The Olympics provide a huge opportunity to get real change. There is a huge spotlight on the Games -- Airbnb is actually an Olympic sponsor -- and the whole world is watching. When Russia introduced horrible anti-LGBT laws in advance of the Sochi Olympics, millions of us spoke up. If we can raise a big enough shout about what Airbnb is actually doing to Rio’s poorest, we can make a real difference.