July 31, 2015; Silicon Valley Business Journal
A local nonprofit that provides housing services has been noticing a decline in its providers since the rise in popularity of Airbnb. HIP Housing helps seniors and low-wage earners in the San Mateo area find or rent shared housing by matching individuals that have space in their homes with those in need of an affordable place to live. The organization has been using the term “home sharing” for thirty-five years when referring to its affordable housing services in in San Mateo, a county where rent prices have risen by fifty percent over the past four years.
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According to the San Mateo Daily Journal, the phrase “home sharing” is used by at least seventy nonprofit agencies in the U.S. providing permanent housing solutions for seniors and low-income families. Kate Comfort Harr, HIP Housing’s executive director, is concerned that Airbnb’s marketing tactics will dilute their language and exacerbate the community’s housing crisis.
In the past, Nonprofit Quarterly has questioned the business model of corporations taking advantage of the rise of “sharing economy”–driven apps. Companies like Airbnb and Uber provide little to no benefits for individuals depending on them for income and give no guarantee that prices won’t be cut as competition increases.
It’s very dangerous and concerning to watch these large corporations, which have little concern about community impact or disability services, monopolizing these spaces. Local nonprofits that are working to create needed services such as affordable housing for their communities may not be able to compete with low prices featured on Airbnb in the future. HIP Housing has already had to say goodbye to one of its 350 providers gone to Airbnb, and fears that they are about to lose another.—Aine Creedon