Hosts react to Airbnb's new nondiscrimination policy

1 year 10 months 1 week ago Friday, September 09 2016 Sep 9, 2016 Friday, September 09, 2016 5:52:00 PM CDT September 09, 2016 in News
By: Kristen Reesor, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA - MU's first home football game is this weekend, and several visitors to Columbia might be staying in homes they found on Airbnb. Even so, not everyone has found Airbnb inclusive.

Airbnb is a website and mobile application that connects people looking for places to stay for short periods of time with people who rent out their homes or rooms in their home. The company released a report Thursday after criticism that it was easy for a host to refuse to rent his or her home or rooms based on a guest's race, disability, ethnicity or other minority status. 

The report listed several ways the company will try to fight discrimination, including having users agree to a "Community Commitment," creating a team of employees to improve inclusion and lowering the prominence of user photos so hosts can't discriminate against potential guests based on appearance.

McKenzie Ordway uses Airbnb to rent out a spare bedroom to other Airbnb users. She said she is a very open person and was surprised when she found out about the discrimination complaints.

"We've had literally all kinds of races here, all kinds of like, genders, everything," Ordway said. "We've never had a problem with discrimination, and I don't know if that would be a big issue here in Columbia."

Lexy Bell is also an Airbnb host in Columbia. She said she avoids discrimination by using instant booking.

"As long as an Airbnb guest has a valid credit card on file and they're verified as far as their address and email and phone number, then they can go ahead and book with me instantly," she said.

Rigel Oliveri is an MU law professor who specializes in housing discrimination. She said Airbnb's report isn't as good as it could be to prevent discrimination. 

"When you're deciding whether or not to allow somebody to rent your Airbnb, you know, their name or their photo really shouldn't matter to your decision-making process," she said. 

Oliveri said in addition to discriminating against people based on their appearance, people might consciously or unconsciously discriminate against people who have names associated with a particular ethnicity.  

Bell said the company's policy isn't as strong as she would like it to be either. She said the company could try using usernames instead of actual names so people can't discriminate based on that factor.

One host KOMU 8 News contacted had concerns with Airbnb placing less focus on photos.

"I would like to see the photo and the name, then I know someone is not booking with other people's information," Airbnb host Li Yu said.

Several other Airbnb hosts KOMU 8 News contacted said the policy is a step in the right direction.

Oliveri said Airbnb wasn't required to come up with a nondiscrimination policy under the Fair Housing Act because the online company isn't a housing provider. 

"Even if, technically, legally they could get away with maintaining the business model that they'd had, they recognize that they need to change," Oliveri said. "They want the goodwill of the people who are using their services."

Bell said she attempts to accommodate each of her guests no matter what.

"I just try to make them feel like they're family," she said. "I mean they are staying in my home and they're my guests, so regardless of race, color or disability, I feel like that's really important as a host."

Many of Airbnb's new policies begin Nov. 1.

More News

Grid
List
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's choice for the Supreme Court has given members of Congress a pile of material... More >>
15 hours ago Saturday, July 21 2018 Jul 21, 2018 Saturday, July 21, 2018 2:52:51 PM CDT July 21, 2018 in News
WASHINGTON (AP) — The maker of a permanent contraceptive implant subject to thousands of injury reports and repeated safety restrictions... More >>
15 hours ago Saturday, July 21 2018 Jul 21, 2018 Saturday, July 21, 2018 2:28:05 PM CDT July 21, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- The man accused of carrying out last month's deadly shooting at a Maryland newspaper has been indicted on... More >>
16 hours ago Saturday, July 21 2018 Jul 21, 2018 Saturday, July 21, 2018 1:42:30 PM CDT July 21, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The 2018 Show-Me State Games kick off Friday, bringing thousands of athletes, coaches and fans from around the... More >>
16 hours ago Saturday, July 21 2018 Jul 21, 2018 Saturday, July 21, 2018 1:15:00 PM CDT July 21, 2018 in News
ASHLAND – Seven locations throughout the state are open Saturday for parents to come and get their children I.D.’d, free... More >>
17 hours ago Saturday, July 21 2018 Jul 21, 2018 Saturday, July 21, 2018 12:58:00 PM CDT July 21, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- Gracelyn Mae Violet Griffin already had a "Little Nugget" onesie picked out for her before she arrived in... More >>
17 hours ago Saturday, July 21 2018 Jul 21, 2018 Saturday, July 21, 2018 12:35:28 PM CDT July 21, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — An organization backing one of three competing medical marijuana initiatives in Missouri has continued to bring... More >>
18 hours ago Saturday, July 21 2018 Jul 21, 2018 Saturday, July 21, 2018 11:26:00 AM CDT July 21, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - A group of Columbia moms is starting Missouri Disability Empowerment, a new organization with big goals to help... More >>
23 hours ago Saturday, July 21 2018 Jul 21, 2018 Saturday, July 21, 2018 6:33:00 AM CDT July 21, 2018 in News
LAKE OF THE OZARKS - 64 years later, a different lake and nearly triple the death toll, the duck boat... More >>
1 day ago Friday, July 20 2018 Jul 20, 2018 Friday, July 20, 2018 9:12:00 PM CDT July 20, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- Russian intelligence operatives attempted to hack into the online accounts of staffers on three congressional campaigns in the... More >>
1 day ago Friday, July 20 2018 Jul 20, 2018 Friday, July 20, 2018 8:46:27 PM CDT July 20, 2018 in News
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — As Charlotte, North Carolina, celebrates being chosen Friday to host the 2020 Republican National Convention, an... More >>
1 day ago Friday, July 20 2018 Jul 20, 2018 Friday, July 20, 2018 8:05:32 PM CDT July 20, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- A cardiologist who treated former President George H.W. Bush was killed Friday morning in a bicycle-to-bicycle drive-by shooting... More >>
1 day ago Friday, July 20 2018 Jul 20, 2018 Friday, July 20, 2018 7:34:02 PM CDT July 20, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Police Department will move into a new neighborhood over the next few weeks. In July,... More >>
1 day ago Friday, July 20 2018 Jul 20, 2018 Friday, July 20, 2018 6:41:00 PM CDT July 20, 2018 in News
CALLAWAY COUNTY - A Steedman man was sentenced to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges of domestic... More >>
1 day ago Friday, July 20 2018 Jul 20, 2018 Friday, July 20, 2018 5:22:00 PM CDT July 20, 2018 in News
ST. JOSEPH (AP) — A Missouri man has pleaded guilty in the fatal beating of his 77-year-old grandmother while he... More >>
1 day ago Friday, July 20 2018 Jul 20, 2018 Friday, July 20, 2018 3:59:00 PM CDT July 20, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- The FBI is in possession of a recording between President Donald Trump and his former personal attorney Michael... More >>
1 day ago Friday, July 20 2018 Jul 20, 2018 Friday, July 20, 2018 3:38:16 PM CDT July 20, 2018 in Continuous News
JEFFERSON CITY – House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty will resign from the Missouri House of Representatives effective Sunday in... More >>
1 day ago Friday, July 20 2018 Jul 20, 2018 Friday, July 20, 2018 12:57:00 PM CDT July 20, 2018 in Top Stories
COLE COUNTY — The Cole County Sheriff’s Department responded to possible weapons violation on Thursday night. When the officers... More >>
1 day ago Friday, July 20 2018 Jul 20, 2018 Friday, July 20, 2018 11:47:00 AM CDT July 20, 2018 in Top Stories
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 67°
7am 68°
8am 71°
9am 73°
10am 76°