Hosts react to Airbnb's new nondiscrimination policy

2 years 1 month 6 days 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
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Police Department is looking for a suspect after an armed robbery at a convenience store in... More >>
13 minutes ago Wednesday, October 17 2018 Oct 17, 2018 Wednesday, October 17, 2018 9:32:00 AM CDT October 17, 2018 in Top Stories
COLUMBIA- A new mobile pantry location through The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri will open Wednesday afternoon providing... More >>
3 hours ago Wednesday, October 17 2018 Oct 17, 2018 Wednesday, October 17, 2018 6:27:00 AM CDT October 17, 2018 in Top Stories
LADDONIA—The Community R-6 School District is the second district to get new beef options added to its school menu. The... More >>
3 hours ago Wednesday, October 17 2018 Oct 17, 2018 Wednesday, October 17, 2018 6:13:00 AM CDT October 17, 2018 in Top Stories
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Police Department investigated a shots heard call on Tuesday evening. The incident happened at the... More >>
11 hours ago Tuesday, October 16 2018 Oct 16, 2018 Tuesday, October 16, 2018 10:03:00 PM CDT October 16, 2018 in Top Stories
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Neighborhood Watch recently secured funding for next year. The Columbia City Council awarded them this money... More >>
13 hours ago Tuesday, October 16 2018 Oct 16, 2018 Tuesday, October 16, 2018 8:17:00 PM CDT October 16, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - A Columbia woman will be collecting items to transport down to Florida in order to help the recovery... More >>
15 hours ago Tuesday, October 16 2018 Oct 16, 2018 Tuesday, October 16, 2018 6:40:00 PM CDT October 16, 2018 in Continuous News
COLUMBIA – Burrell Behavioral Health introduced a medicine-first approach to its facilities in Missouri’s central region to help clients with... More >>
15 hours ago Tuesday, October 16 2018 Oct 16, 2018 Tuesday, October 16, 2018 6:40:00 PM CDT October 16, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Despite a wide gap in their campaign finances, Sen. Claire McCaskill and Josh Hawley remain locked in a... More >>
15 hours ago Tuesday, October 16 2018 Oct 16, 2018 Tuesday, October 16, 2018 6:20:00 PM CDT October 16, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri vehicle owners will be getting new red, white and blue license plates to commemorate the... More >>
15 hours ago Tuesday, October 16 2018 Oct 16, 2018 Tuesday, October 16, 2018 5:48:00 PM CDT October 16, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY – A New York man pleaded guilty on Tuesday to two counts of attempting to produce child pornography.... More >>
17 hours ago Tuesday, October 16 2018 Oct 16, 2018 Tuesday, October 16, 2018 4:21:00 PM CDT October 16, 2018 in Top Stories
COLUMBIA - Jerome Sally, a Hickman High School assistant principal, is suing Columbia Public Schools as a result of "systemic... More >>
18 hours ago Tuesday, October 16 2018 Oct 16, 2018 Tuesday, October 16, 2018 3:23:00 PM CDT October 16, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Lt. Governor Mike Kehoe made a stop in Columbia Tuesday to campaign for Proposition D, the gas tax... More >>
20 hours ago Tuesday, October 16 2018 Oct 16, 2018 Tuesday, October 16, 2018 1:28:00 PM CDT October 16, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - A Royal Inn manager said Tuesday the maintenance team was beginning renovations when the building's second-floor walkway came... More >>
20 hours ago Tuesday, October 16 2018 Oct 16, 2018 Tuesday, October 16, 2018 1:25:00 PM CDT October 16, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A federal judge sent the lawsuit over Kenneth Suttner's death back to circuit court on Friday after... More >>
20 hours ago Tuesday, October 16 2018 Oct 16, 2018 Tuesday, October 16, 2018 1:01:17 PM CDT October 16, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- The problem of unsolicited robocalls has gotten so bad that... More >>
22 hours ago Tuesday, October 16 2018 Oct 16, 2018 Tuesday, October 16, 2018 11:19:50 AM CDT October 16, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - A Kansas woman connected to a deadly car crash in Boone County has been sentenced to five years... More >>
23 hours ago Tuesday, October 16 2018 Oct 16, 2018 Tuesday, October 16, 2018 10:27:00 AM CDT October 16, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - A Boonville man will spend the next decade in prison after pleading guilty to a deadly 2017 shooting.... More >>
23 hours ago Tuesday, October 16 2018 Oct 16, 2018 Tuesday, October 16, 2018 10:13:00 AM CDT October 16, 2018 in News
CALIFORNIA - A former employee in the Russellville and California school districts pleaded guilty Friday to having sexual contact with... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, October 16 2018 Oct 16, 2018 Tuesday, October 16, 2018 8:43:00 AM CDT October 16, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 49°
10am 47°
11am 52°
12pm 55°
1pm 57°