I’m a pretty staunch supporter of Airbnb. I like the idea that homes typically left vacant can be occupied by travellers. I also like the idea that you can feel more at home in a city where you’re a tourist.

But, the recent call from Airbnb for federal dollars is tone deaf in their long-term fight for something good, in the name of exactly what makes them pernicious.

For years, Airbnb has been arguing that they simply provide a way for renters and homeowners to subsidize their housing costs, generally when they’re away or perhaps have a spare room, insisting that they’re emphatically not putting a strain on an already tight housing market. 

Everyone knew that wasn’t quite true but I, for one, found those problematic effects palatable in the interest of what I saw as something good — in an increasingly expensive and vacant housing landscape, a method for ensuring our most environmentally-efficient spaces in densely populated areas are flexibly occupied.

Of course, there were de facto unlicensed hoteliers operating on the platform, but their mission was worthwhile enough in the long-term to make the short-term effects tolerable. 

However, their recent call for federal aid whistles a very different tune. It’s asking for federal funding primarily for those illegal hoteliers at a time when the economy is struggling on essentially every front.

The very beauty of Airbnb is that they can be a massive travel player without owning any travel assets. That should make them the most flexible, and least too-big-to-fail travel company, in existence.

In the midst of a global health crisis, Airbnb’s call for federal aid is one of the most audacious pleas I’ve ever heard.

Cover photo by Filios Sazeides on Unsplash

Kiyoko Fujimura

Kiyoko began working out of BuzzBuzzHome's HQ in Toronto in 2009 and now leads their American expansion. Kiyoko established BuzzBuzzHome's New York office and, more recently, relocated to LA to continue their west coast expansion. Kiyoko is an active member of ULI and served as an advisor to AppCanary, a Y-Combinator funded startup acquired by GitHub in 2018.

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