In recent years, Airbnb and its competitors have been accused of making housing unaffordable, of draining homes from the long-term rental market, and of eviscerating the character of popular neighborhoods through displacement and overexploitation. In an era punctuated by the effects of a housing shortage, it can seem that vacation rentals stand at odds with the solutions cities and residents are searching for.
But does the business of short-stay rentals have to be so ethically fraught? An ambitious project based in Amsterdam says no.
It’s called Fairbnb, and it’s trying to refashion the home-sharing model so that short-stay apartment rentals can enrich the amenities and housing choices of the communities that host them.
“For a long time, the social impact of traveling was rarely taken into consideration—because at first with vacation apartments, people didn’t feel it,” Sito Veracruz, a co-founder of Fairbnb, tells CityLab. “We are now reckoning with the damaging impact of tourism on communities, not just because of the industry’s growth, but because of its huge expansion into residential areas.”
The project, if successful, could provide a sustainable alternative in a sector where, as Fairbnb’s own promotional material notes, “the promise of ‘home-sharing’ has turned into ‘home-stripping.’”
Fairbnb has been building this alternative for three years now. It already has co-op members in Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, and Lithuania, and has spent time consulting with communities in cities across Europe, including Venice, Bologna, and B ..