Airbnb’s partnership with the Olympics won’t help cities, but gentrifiers will love it

Rarely does Olympic sponsorship go hand in hand with a call for class warfare. But with the announcement On November 18, Airbnb will become a Worldwide Olympic Partner, which is precisely what happened.

Thomas Bach, the President of the International Olympic Committee, said, “This innovative partnership underpins our strategy to ensure that the successful delivery of the Olympic Games is sustainable and leaves a legacy for the host community.” (NBC has a contract with the International Olympic Committee to broadcast the 2020 Olympics.)

Rarely does Olympic sponsorship go hand in hand with a call for class warfare. But with the announcement that Airbnb would become a Worldwide Olympic Partner, that is precisely what happened.

Bach somehow failed to mention that Airbnb has a proven track record of gentrifying, displacing, and shredding neighborhoods across the country. The pact will last until 2028affecting cities such as Tokyo, host of next summer’s Olympics, as well as Paris and Los Angeles, which are set to host the games in 2024 and 2028.

In some ways, Airbnb and the Olympics are the perfect match. After all, the Olympics are a moving machine. In Olympic city after Olympic city, workers are regularly forced to make way for gaming sites and projects. Sometimes it involves the iron fist of forced eviction while at other times it means the velvet glove of gentrification.

The 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro were a case study in forced evictions, with one community after another making way for the games. About 77,000 cariocas, or residents of Rio, were moved between 2009, when Rio was named host, and 2016, when the event was staged. But the gold medal winner for forced evictions has to be the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, which brought the displacement of 1.5 million people, often without adequate compensation. Those who protested against the actions of the Chinese authorities were handed over “rehabilitation through work» Jail sentences, a form of imprisonment without charge.

At other times, especially in the Global North, gentrification is the most common mode of displacement. Prior to the London 2012 Olympic Games, some long-time residents saw their rents go up, forcing them to move. Olympic Games supporters often tell residents that hosting the events in their backyards will be beneficial. This is usually not the case. In the years following the Olympics, Newham, one of the five host boroughs, experienced the biggest peak in house prices all over London. It is no coincidence that it is also the borough of London with the highest homelessness rate. In Atlanta, social housing has been demolished to make way for the 1996 Summer Games, including Techwood Homesthe first federally subsidized public housing project.

People help a resident move her belongings after her home was demolished
People help a resident move her belongings after her house was demolished, in the Vila Autodromo neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, near the Olympic Park construction site for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, March 8, 2016.Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP – Getty Images

Olympics organizers say Airbnb is better than the cost — and space — of new hotels. But that’s not the whole story, starting with who actually benefits from an influx of Airbnb units. Gentrification is a legalized method of oppression, and Airbnb aids and abets the process. Landlords who realize they can make a lot more money renting to the tourist upper class than ordinary tenants – city workers – are raising rents at every opportunity. It ended up forces conventional tenants to evacuate, allowing landlords to convert apartments into Airbnb units in the so-called “sharing economy.” While Landlords Can Leverage Airbnb to Their Advantage, Renters Are Being Left Behind as rents continue to rise.

There is truth in Requirement that the Airbnb partnership could help curb soaring olympic costs related to the construction of hotels. However, instead of leaving underutilized hotels behind, the partnership will likely contribute to the legacy of a bloated housing market that jumps out of reach for the city’s working population.

City after city has become “Airbnb-ed”. Academics David Wachsmuth and Alexander Weisler report that “Airbnb consistently creates rent gaps in cities around the world,” widening the gap between a property’s actual and potential returns.

In doing so, Airbnb stokes racial capitalism, often contributing to notable neighborhood bleaching. Within Airbnb, an independent monitoring group, call Airbnb “a tool of racial gentrification.” In New York, for example, in the 72 predominantly black neighborhoods, where the white population makes up about 14% of residents, 74% of Airbnb hosts are white. Black residents of these neighborhoods are six times more likely suffer the loss of homes than white residents, in part because they make up the majority in those neighborhoods, but also because of rising rents fueled by Airbnb.

Airbnb can shred the social fabric of a neighborhood. In New Orleans, Airbnb has turned certain neighborhoods into high-priced flophouses for the wealthy. For half the week, resident report that many parts of the city are “like ghost towns”. But then, as the weekend rolls around, the neighborhood fills with “crowds of drunken, mostly white, college-aged kids” filled with “noisy parties, overflowing garbage cans and countless other troubles” creaking “on the remaining residents”.

Airbnb can shred the social fabric of a neighborhood. In New Orleans, Airbnb has turned certain neighborhoods into high-priced flophouses for the wealthy.

The influx of high-end tourists can eliminate the sharp edges of culture that make a city special. According to Professor Stefano Picasiathanks to Airbnb, “The center of Florence [in Italy] is now Disneyfied. It’s basically a theme park for tourists.

In Los Angeles, the city set to host the 2028 Summer Olympics, activists from the group NOlympics LA have made games-induced gentrification a central part of their platform. The group “Houses, not hotelsis designed to raise awareness of hotel gentrification in the city, and deep-pocketed Airbnb operators that turn hundreds of apartments and condominiums into de facto makeshift hotels. When I accompanied canvassers for the Homes Not Hotels campaign in Hollywood, Olympians Hugo Soto and Jonny Coleman pointed out half a dozen safes hanging from a fence outside a building, a sign that some units were Airbnb rather than rented. to long-term tenants.

In recent years, the Olympics have been engulfed by a wave of anti-gaming activism from around the world. While the new partnership with Airbnb opens a new channel of money for IOC coffers, it also opens a new front for dissent. For activists and critics, the announcement of Airbnb as the latest Olympic partner will come as no surprise. They already view the Olympics as a hissing juggernaut – riddled with doping scandals and breathtaking corruption – which is not known for its ethical metrics. Both Airbnb and the Olympics are about sharing and caring – a sort of five-ring fever dream – while behind the shiny canvas, a nightmare awaits the host city’s poor and marginalized.

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