An open letter from religious leaders to Airbnb

As religious leaders in communities of color across New York City, we have seen many businesses come to our communities making bold pledges, only to provide very few opportunities for local residents. This is not the case with Airbnb. What you are doing is actually much worse.

Study after study has shown that your predatory housing programs displace tenants and drive up rents for those who stay. And to add insult to injury, we’ve seen you spend millions on spurious TV ads featuring black and brown faces that make money with Airbnb, despite the fact that a recent independent study found that about 75% of your listings in predominantly African American neighborhoods are checked by white hosts.

Saying it’s a bait and a switch is like saying Donald Trump is pro-construction because he wants to build a big wall to keep immigrants out of the country.

But perhaps worst of all is that as this masquerade unfolds, not only do you parade around famous black figures, such as Danny Glover and former Attorney General Eric Holder, whenever a Racial discrimination issue arises on your website, but you have also refused to even consider changing your own terms of service, making it impossible for people to sue if their civil rights are violated.

To us, this doesn’t sound like a business interested in being a good partner with our communities, but rather a profiteer interested only in making a quick buck as our residents continue to grapple with a growing affordability crisis.

When a university study concluded that Airbnb had removed over 13,000 homes from our rental market, you complained that the data was wrong.

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