Jan 17, 2024 - Business

Airbnb reveals new panel to address housing affordability crisis

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

With rentals in cities and towns across the U.S., Airbnb has had a front-row seat to the nation's housing affordability crisis. Now, the company says it wants to help solve it.

Driving the news: Airbnb announced Wednesday the formation of a new housing council of experts, chaired by Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, former mayor of Baltimore and former president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Why it matters: The council will advise Airbnb on how it can throw its weight behind initiatives that work to increase America's housing supply and drive down prices.

Details: Airbnb's advocacy could come in the form of donations — the company recently made a $3 million donation to a California affordable housing non-profit — or supporting relevant laws: Airbnb recently backed a Colorado ballot initiative to put tax dollars toward new workforce housing.

What they're saying: "Every day, we work with governments to ensure that hosting on Airbnb, and the economic activity created by hosting, make communities stronger," the announcement says.

  • "Through this work, we understand cities continue to navigate unique, complex challenges – including housing affordability," the statement added.

Between the lines: Critics have accused Airbnb of contributing to the housing affordability crisis as some hosts snatch up properties and effectively limit supply.

  • Research from the Harvard Business Review found that a 1% increase in Airbnb listings in a given area is associated with a 0.018% increase in rents and 0.026% increase in home prices.
  • "While these effects may seem very small, consider that Airbnb's year-over-year average growth is about 44%," the researchers note.

The other side: The company argues that its presence brings tourism dollars to areas that wouldn't normally see them.

  • "We want to play a role in finding sensible, long-term solutions to help increase the housing supply and work with cities to balance the benefits of home sharing with communities' needs," Airbnb's announcement said.

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