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Summer’s Here. For the Sake of Human Kindness, Please Don’t Use Airbnb
Refuse to let your family holiday create homelessness for the poor and rising costs for everyone else
In late 2007, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia couldn’t afford to make rent on their San Francisco loft, so they bought an air mattress and served breakfast to their guests. Airbedandbreakfast was born.
Today, Airbnb is an $80 billion private-equity-backed monopoly that has devoured millions of housing units by incentivizing land-lorders to evict countless families and turn their homes into full-time clerkless hotels. To aid in this battle of private profits versus human well-being, Airbnb has made a promise in writing to their investors to fight democracies in court for as long as they can afford to do so.
Summer is officially here, and people with money to spare are starting to book millions of summer holidays on this wicked app.
But unlike the false advertising in their endless TV commercials, Airbnbs aren’t actually “made possible by Hosts.”
Your next Airbnb vacation is made possible by huge amounts of human suffering.
The Airbnb homelessness crisis
Airbnb is one of the biggest refugee-creating corporations on the planet.
There are more than 580,400 homeless people in America as we speak.
Nearly 40% are permanently unsheltered.
That’s several hundred thousand men, women, and children.
And 100% of their pain and suffering is preventable.
We need to call these precious people what they really are:
A domestic refugee is someone who is displaced from their home by powers outside of their control.
While Putin has created 8 million Ukrainian refugees in the same way America caused 9.2 million Iraqi refugees, Airbnb is creating a global refugee crisis on a scale that will eventually make all warlords look like benign bullies in comparison.
So far, there are more than 8 million Airbnbs in the world.
While 500,000 Americans sleep on the streets like dogs, literally dying by the hundreds each week, Airbnb has taken millions of family homes off the market and turned them into full-time quasi-illegal hotels.
Never forget: Every full-time Airbnb evicts a real family.
And every part-time Airbnb raises prices for everyone else…
The Airbnb cost-push is just getting started
Second homes are directly linked to an increase in house prices.
Call me crazy, but residential family homes shouldn’t be commercial hotels.
When a host rents out a spare room or attic or basement, they commercialize — and financialize — a property. Because it’s now producing income, house prices rise. This forces every new buyer in the neighborhood to shoulder more debt in order to buy a home. In order to make ends meet, many of these new buyers then have to start renting rooms on Airbnb.
You can see how the financialization of homes spirals house prices higher and higher.
But unbelievably, hosting in owner-occupied properties isn’t even the major problem. It’s when an investor outbids a family for a second property and turns it into a full-time Airbnb.
Or worse, when a holiday rental company does so.
Or worse, when a highly-leveraged hedge fund buys a swath of holiday rental companies.
Or worse, when a sovereign wealth fund buys a portfolio of hedge funds.
That’s why, if something radical doesn’t change, the average house will cost $10+ million within 50 years, and no one you know will be able to afford to own a home.
Just picture the future, my friends. Do the math. Airbnb’s corporate mandate is to grow exponentially forever. If new housing construction doesn’t keep up — and it hasn’t for more than a decade — it’s mathematically impossible that the predatory company won’t take hundreds of millions of houses away from real families in the decades ahead.
As I drive through Airbnb ghost towns — most pretty seaside villages in the UK are now completely dead aside from weekends and summer breaks — I think about Isaiah 5:8–9:
“Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field till no space is left and you live alone in the land. The Lord Almighty has declared in my hearing: “Surely the great houses will become desolate, the fine mansions left without occupants.”
Airbnb crushes renters
In addition to stripping housing supply from local communities and commodifying residential real estate, which causes house sale prices to rise, house rental prices for working families have skyrocketed. That is, when rentals don’t disappear entirely.
Because a land-lorder can always make more money via Airbnb than from a monthly renter, rents are crushingly competitive and shelter costs are insane in nearly every city on earth.
In Australia, 35% of Airbnbs aren’t even owned by the listed host; they’re simply subletting them to vacationers in a perverse game of real estate arbitrage.
I personally know dozens of people who’ve been pushed out of communities where they grew up because now it’s just Touristville. But for those who can afford to stay, they’re paying the extra cost of competing with vacationers.
In other words, Airbnb has made life more difficult and mathematically miserable for literally every person in every one of the 65,000 cities in which Airbnb operates.
And again, Airbnb is just getting started.
According to the company’s own IPO filing documents, they have plans to wage legal war against 100,000+ cities in order to continue to grow and metastasize forever. Just listen to how the NYC Council put it:
“Airbnb consistently undermines the City’s efforts to preserve affordable housing, and regularly attempts to thwart regulations put in place to protect New York City residents.”
If you look at the predator corporation’s trajectory, you can see things pretty clearly:
Airbnb’s business model is contributing to the greatest humanitarian shelter crisis in human history.
Airbnb destroys communities
My village is intolerable on summer weekends. Airbnb guests drink more. They park where they please. Their cars are more likely to have a loud muffler or a blasting speaker system. They’re far more likely to litter cigarette butts and plastic bottles. They regularly let their dogs crap in the park without picking it up. They break the night-noise curfew with impunity.
And why would they care? They don’t live here. They don’t have roots here. They don’t have skin in the game. They’re not invested. There’s no need to be neighborly.
Like cruise ships invading small island nations, Airbnbers raiding pretty villages causes a huge breakdown to communities, as towns transform into temporary resorts instead of places where real people can raise families.
This is how towns die.
On the street where I live, one in four houses sits empty for much of the week, but they’re packed with tourists on the weekend. It’s now a nearly-impossible place to raise a family, as sale prices have skyrocketed and rentals are simply non-existent. One acquaintance recently broke down weeping at our door — she lost her apartment and there was literally nothing else available anywhere remotely near her price range.
One of our village friends, a former police officer, lost her longtime resident-neighbor to a full-time Airbnb investor. Soon the house was crawling with partiers who parked on her lawn and blocked her driveway. After complaining dozens of times, the landlord came for a visit and spoke his “truth” bluntly:
“At the end of the day, I live two hundred miles away and just don’t give a f#@k.”
Airbnb fights democracy
Airbnb realizes that fighting democratic cities in court will be a long-term risk to their profitability:
“Compliance with laws and regulations of different jurisdictions imposing varying standards and requirements is burdensome for businesses like ours… We have in the past, and are likely in the future, to become involved in disputes with government agencies…” — Airbnb’s SEC filing
Did you catch that? Obeying the law is “burdensome,” so Airbnb fully plans to wage war on the global public.
When Airbnb isn’t suing taxpayers, they’re buying politicians. And let’s face it, the rest of the world calls corporate lobbying what it actually is: bribing. Why does Airbnb have 13 lobbying firms in Congress? Why did they hire a PR firm to meet with Scottish delegates on 28 occasions? Why did they fund more than 400 fake grassroots organizations?
Because Airbnb knows their company is a pox on the commons.
To all Airbnb users
Just stop using Airbnb (and other holiday rental companies) that take residential family homes off the market.
Many young families say they “can’t afford” to stay at a hotel with a kitchen. And if that’s actually true, they should just stay home. Your desire to have a kitchen on vacation doesn’t trump every other family’s real need for affordable shelter.
It’s a tiny sacrifice that you simply must make for the sake of your global family.
It’s tempting to think that people could just use Airbnbs that are owner-occupied, but the reality is that Airbnb uses its profits to steamroll democracy.
By renting an Airbnb, you’re undermining justice, democracy, and the long-term health and well-being of civil society.
Vacationers can do the right thing. We just need to get creative:
We can stay at a hotel, motel, resort, or registered bed and breakfast in a commercial zone.
We can camp.
We can glamp.
We can house-sit.
We can stay at an eco-village.
We can rent or borrow a motor home.
We can house-swap with friends or family.
We can build a $1,000 cabin in our backyards.
We can use house-swapping platforms, which decommodify the vacation process by allowing you to earn points by letting people stay in your house for free while you’re away, to then spend on stays at other people’s houses for free when they’re away.
We can seriously question the long-term value of rootedness and family and community, practice the Golden Rule, and just save up a little longer before taking an honorable holiday.
Where does Airbnb end?
Check out Airbnb’s website sitemap:
There are hundreds upon hundreds of towns listed on each page, and there are 150 pages of listings:
More than 100,000 communities have already been invaded by shelter commercialization.
Where does it end?
It’s an important question to ask.
When you have a you-must-grow-forever business model and must create compounding unearned profits for your parasite shareholders, you have to keep devouring more and more homes to turn into Airbnbs.
And then one day it hits you:
Airbnb will not stop until they are stopped.
Like all corporations, Airbnb’s sole legal fiduciary reason for existing is to extract wealth from society and deliver it to shareholders.
If that means colonizing your neighborhood, so be it.
Don’t love that idea for your future? Write to Airbnb’s board members or executive management, their email is [first name].[last name]@ airbnb.com and gently encourage them to grow a moral conscience. CC your (s)elected politicians — not because they’ll do anything meaningful about it, but because they need to know they’re in collusion with the enemy of justice.
It’s deeply ironic that the Airbnb founders who couldn’t make rent are now making it harder for millions of families to keep a roof over their heads. People are literally suffering and dying on the streets so that more “Airbnb Stories” can be captured on camera.
The commercialization of human shelter — via Airbnb, holiday rentals, second homes, and land-lorders — is skyrocketing real estate prices for everyone. When property prices go up, so do the prices of everything else, because now everyone is paying more rent and interest.
Affordable housing — a real need for the poor — must take priority over the luxurious wants of those lucky enough to afford a vacation.
So please do the right thing.
Delete your Airbnb account.
Never use them again.
And tell all your friends.
Your family vacation shouldn’t cost another family their home.
Want to raise the alarm about Airbnb? Please heart+share this article.
Recommended summer reading: My new myth-busting biography on Jesus explores the radical politics, economics, and philosophy of history’s most influential revolutionary. There are some new surprises for everybody!
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