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Airbnb, NAACP partnership met with skepticism

The NAACP is partnering with Airbnb to get people in “communities of color” to rent out their extra rooms — in exchange for the civil-rights organization getting a 20 percent cut of the fees, the short-term rental service said Wednesday.

The move is supposed to help Airbnb clean up its image following reports of racist Airbnb hosts denying their homes to black guests, but critics say the NAACP is simply getting into the gentrification business.

“That’s wrong, getting a 20 percent kickback. All they’re doing is helping Airbnb and changing the neighborhood. People are starting to not afford these places now,” said a 73-year-old Crown Heights resident who identified himself only as Mr. Moore.

“I don’t know for certain but I know the rents are rising so that might contribute,” said Milton McFarlane, who has lived in Crown Heights for 35 years.

Airbnb takes a percentage of all rentals, charging guests a 3 percent fee and hosts between 5 and 15 percent. Under the deal, the NAACP will get a 20 percent cut.

For instance, on a $100 rental, Airbnb charges up to $18 in fees, and of that, the NAACP would get up to $3.60.

The partnering seems intended to help Airbnb improve its image after users have claimed hosts denied them digs based on race. The issue sparked the hashtag #airbnb­whileblack and gave rise to a competing service called Innclusive that purports to be more friendly to people of color.

But Airbnb has also come under fire as a force for gentrification.

“AirBnB does have a problem with racial disparities — even as revenue has boomed in black neighborhoods, the profits have been overwhelmingly concentrated in the hands of white residents — and they’re right that this needs to be addressed,” said Manhattan City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal.

Another political Airbnb critic, Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams, who chairs the Committee on Housing, called the partnership a distraction.

“They’re doing all this stuff so they can say, ‘Don’t look at the man behind the curtain,’ ” Williams said. “If I was the NAACP, I don’t know if I would be involved in this.”

The NAACP’s cut will go into the group’s general fund, according to spokeswoman Aba Blankson, who defended the arrangement.

“This 21st century partnership will create more economic opportunities for African American families, not less,” she said. “By providing our membership with a pathway to become Airbnb hosts, we believe that we will help to make housing more affordable and drive income and economic activity to communities of color.”

Source: http://nypost.com/2017/07/27/airbnb-naacp-partnership-met-with-skepticism/

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