One Year Later, How Our A Fair Share Initiative Is Lifting Up New Yorkers

Home sharing is about travel. It’s about giving people the chance to explore the world affordably and get a local’s perspective on the places they visit.

But it’s also about economic opportunity. Home sharing helps families pay their bills, save for retirement and pay off student loans. It expands the tourist map, helping local small businesses flourish by bringing in visitors.

And as more people turn to platforms like Airbnb to make ends meet, it’s important to us that this ripple effect — the exponential impact of home sharing — be part of a movement to democratize capitalism and ensure that communities also directly benefit from this economic activity.

One way we try to do that is by making it easier for hosts to pay taxes. Allowing platforms like Airbnb to collect and remit automatically on behalf of hosts helps ensure that cities and states get their fair share of tax revenue from home sharing.

We’ve signed Voluntary Collection Agreements (VCA) with nearly half of New York’s counties, allowing us to collect and remit taxes on behalf of our users. These VCAs have generated over $3.5 million for counties since  2016. But current law prohibits us from negotiating a similar agreement with New York State, leaving it lagging behind the majority of states, including neighboring places like Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Vermont.

This type of agreement would bring an estimated $100 million in revenue for the state each year that could be used to support communities and fund core services. In order to show the impact of this kind of funding, we donated $10 million to seven community-based organizations across New York State exactly one year ago.

These organizations represent and support a range of populations across New York State. We partnered with them to promote stability and security for the communities they serve by investing in housing affordability, health care access, legal services, and political empowerment.

Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) takes a holistic approach to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The organization administers 4,000 HIV tests each year as part of its lifesaving prevention and testing programs, connecting those who test positive to care and those who test negative to HIV prevention resources. At the same time, GMHC’s rental assistance programs secure stable housing for 240 clients each month, while the Meals Program serves hot meals to 400 HIV-positive clients every weekday. The donation they received from Airbnb supported all of these initiatives.

The New York Mortgage Coalition supports low- and moderate-income homeowners and potential homeowners in the New York metropolitan area. The donation they received from Airbnb was instrumental in supporting their pre-purchase homeownership program and the nine housing counseling agencies in their network. Through these member organizations, NYMC generated 439 affordable mortgages and provided one-on-one pre-purchase homebuyer counseling to over 2000 individuals in 2018.

The New York Immigration Coalition, which includes more than 200 groups across New York State, invested in their Black Immigrant Engagement Initiative, one of their most needed and yet underfunded programs. This initiative aims to provide legal services and community education for Black immigrants while fighting for greater inclusion of their priorities in the broader immigrant rights movement.

The New York State Rural Housing Coalition promotes affordable housing and community development in working to revitalize upstate New York’s small rural communities. The $1.75 million donation they received from Airbnb was the largest in the coalition’s four-decade history, roughly seven times their annual budget. They created an endowment to support the organization and its members for years to come. In addition to ensuring their future, the endowment frees the coalition from relying on public dollars, which constitute more than half of the coalition’s annual revenue, saving taxpayer money at the same time.

A number of these organizations also used the money they received from Airbnb to empower their communities and support political engagement. Gay Men’s Health Crisis traveled to Washington, D.C., and Albany to push for fairer housing policies, health care benefits, and non-discrimination initiatives, while the New York Immigration Coalition invested in its Immigrants Vote! Campaign to ensure that their community has a voice from city halls across the state to the halls of Congress. The New York Mortgage Coalition even hosted a Housing Summit with Airbnb and housing services organizations in June to consider how the housing sector and innovation economies can work together. Because even as we take on the most urgent challenges facing these communities, we can only solve these problems by mobilizing and working with government to bring about policy change.

As we reflect on our donation, we know that with just $10 million in one year, our partners have improved the lives of their community members in so many ways. Imagine what could be accomplished with ten times that amount every year. We want to make it easier for our hosts to pay their fair share. But we need Albany to let us.

All they have to do is say yes.