Airbnb eyes increasing housing supply, driving down prices

Airbnb is launching an effort to examine how to address the nationwide issue of housing affordability, focusing on increasing the supply and driving down prices.

The company announced Wednesday the formation of a new housing council, chaired by former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who was also the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

The council will advise the company on partnerships and initiatives that will spur housing supply, according to a news release about the effort. The group will also explore how the vacation rental company can work with cities on short-term rental policies. The newly formed council will inform Airbnb on “affordability policy frameworks and research.”

“As a former mayor, I know the challenges municipal leaders face in addressing housing challenges in their communities,” Rawlings-Blake said in the release. “There are no shortcuts or simple solutions to this crisis—it was many years in the making and will take a coordinated, long-term effort to address. We need all community stakeholders – both the public and private sector – to work together to bolster America’s housing supply.”

The cost of homes has doubled from 1998 to 2021, and land prices have increased by 60 percent from 2012 to 2019 — all factors contributing to a crisis facing masses living in the U.S.

Richmond, Va., Mayor Levar Stoney, CEO and Executive Director of National League of Cities Clarence Anthony and other housing experts and advocates will also work alongside Rawlings-Blake.

Airbnb has dealt with pushback over its expansion in smaller communities. Some Airbnb hosts have been accused of cutting down the local housing supply, causing price jumps.

The vacation rental company has backed some initiatives in a couple of states to address the affordability crisis.

In 2022, the company backed a Colorado initiative that directs taxable income to help with increasing the housing stock in the state. It also donated $3 million to help a California-based housing nonprofit.

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