Things That Matter

As Hurricane Harvey Intensifies, Airbnb Looks To Texans To Open Their Homes Up To Victims

As Hurricane Harvey intensifies in Texas, leaving large parts of Houston devastated and completely flooded, Airbnb has activated their Disaster Response Program.

The program is set to provide those who’ve been displaced by Hurricane Harvey, as well as volunteers and relief workers, a safe place to stay at no cost.

Airbnb is currently looking for people in San Antonio, Austin and Dallas to open up their homes to victims and relief workers affected by Hurricane Harvey. Homes in those cities are already open to those in need of shelter.

The Houston police chief said 2,000 people were rescued from flooding in the city over the weekend, and that at least 185 critical rescue requests were pending as Tropical Storm Harvey brought catastrophic rains into flood-prone areas. Here, Harris County Sheriff's Deputy R. Johnson rescues two children from high floodwaters in Cypress, TX. Officials released more water from Houston-area reservoirs overwhelmed by Harvey earlier in the day. The move is aimed at protecting the city's downtown from devastating floods, but that could still endanger thousands of homes, even as the nation's fourth-largest city anticipated more rain. To find out how you can help those affected by Harvey, click the ABC7 logo from our profile. Photo: @hcsotexas

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So far, Hurricane Harvey has dropped more than 20 inches of rain in some areas, and it hasn’t let up. According to the New York Times, the rains could continue another two-to-three days and add 15-to-25 inches of rain to parts of Southern Texas. Areas could see up to 50 inches of rain. The Washington Post reports that officials in Texas have put the death toll at eight so far, with more 30,000 people expected to be evacuated from their homes.

People are currently offering spare rooms, living rooms, and entire homes and apartments on Airbnb. If you’re in need of shelter or willing to offer your home for free to individuals and families, click here to find a place to stay or list your home as an evacuation shelter.


READ: After Criticism, Border Patrol Announces It Will Close Immigration Checkpoints In Path Of Hurricane Harvey

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Barbie’s Dream House Is Real And You Can Stay There With Three Friends For Just $60 A Night

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Barbie’s Dream House Is Real And You Can Stay There With Three Friends For Just $60 A Night

Airbnb

Dreaming of being a Barbie girl in a Barbie world? Well, now is your chance to make that dream come true.

Thanks to a partnership between Mattel and Airbnb, they’re making Barbie’s iconic Malibu Dream House available to a guest and up to three friends. The house overlooks the Pacific Ocean and brings the spirit of the toy Dream House to life, with a plethora of pink decor and odes to Barbie’s history throughout the house.

Guests will have full access to the Malibu, California, house for the duration of their stay, and it comes with plenty of amenities, according to an Airbnb press release.

It’s true! Barbie’s Malibu Dream House could be yours for two nights!

Credit: airbnb

Through booking site Airbnb, travelers can make their childhood fantasy — a stay at a full-sized Malibu Dreamhouse-themed mansion on the coast of southern California — come to life.

In celebration of the iconic brand’s 60th anniversary, the glamorous Barbie Dreamhouse Airbnb Experience boasts amenities such as an infinity pool with a water slide, an open-air meditation room, a small movie theater, third-floor basketball court and panoramic views of the Pacific.

With Barbie’s aesthetic in mind, the decor is chic, modern and, naturally, awash in pink.

All of this is possible because Barbie is celebrating her 60th birthday!

Barbie’s Malibu Dream House will be available on Airbnb for a two-night stay in honor of the doll’s 60th anniversary. Airbnb is partnering with Mattel to make the Dream House a reality for Barbie fans.

In honor of Barbie, Airbnb will also make a donation to the Barbie Dream Gap Project GoFundMe initiative, which aims to encourage young girls to pursue any career path they choose and increase the representation of women in all fields.

The house can sleep four guests, with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The larger bedroom features a pink accent wall and a walk-in closet.

Credit: airbnb

Though Airbnb makes it clear that if you’ll be visiting with more than one other guest, you’ll have to share a bed. I mean I’m in Barbie’s Malibu Dream House. I think I can manage that.

Barbie’s Malibu Dream House also has an infinity pool and a water slide. And a meditation space, because being Barbie can be stressful.

And yes, even the closets are decked out in all things Barbie.

Credit: airbnb

The walk-in closet comes with clothes from Barbie’s many careers over the years. No word on whether or not you’ll be able to have your own Barbie fashion photo shoot or if they’re just there for decor but fashion lovers rejoice.

But your Barbie Dream House experience comes with a whole mix of other Barbie-centric activities.

Credit: airbnb

Lucky guests will also have the opportunity to take part in just the sort of culturally enriching hobbies Barbie enjoys, led by other impressive women like herself: Fencing pro Ibtihaj Muhammad will be on-hand for private lessons; Jill Meyers, an aerospace engineer, is offering in-depth tours of the Columbia Memorial Space Center; and local chef Gina Clarke-Helm can teach you how to cook with California’s farm-to-table fare.

But it’s all temporary. After the birthday celebration, the house will then return to its regular Airbnb listing (without the Barbie décor). So get your booking on!

Mexico City Is The Latest City To Fall Victim To Airbnb’s Gentrification

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Mexico City Is The Latest City To Fall Victim To Airbnb’s Gentrification

Instagram / nurifergar

When we think about Airbnb, we usually think about holidays. Who hasn’t used an Airbnb? Or, at least, who hasn’t at least thought about using an Airbnb? After all, there are so many benefits to booking an Airbnb: you can reserve a spot that suits you – all through an app – and you can directly communicate directly with the owner of your temporary home. Heck, you can even opt in to living with said owner, and getting to know the real niche, hidden gems of a new location. The fact that your feedback on the accuracy of their listing hangs over their head means that Airbnb owners generally have to be accountable. But, not all is well when it comes to the world of Airbnb. Or, should we say, Airbnb is what’s not right, in some places of the world.

Mexico City has really been feeling the impact of gentrification at the hands of Airbnb.

Instagram / @2kadin1sohbet

Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s talk about gentrification. Because to be honest, it mostly sounds like a fancy word real estate agents use to convince people to buy up property. And, that’s not too far from the truth. Gentrification is the process where an area – most commonly neighborhoods – become more pricey. This can happen through the introduction of local amenities, property refurbishment and development, or even just simply an increase of demand for housing in a particular area. Most of the time, it’s a combination of these things that feed gentrification. And while this is great for people who own property in gentrified neighborhoods, this is less great for the poor, who eventually get pushed out of the place that they call home.

Local tenants are finding that they’re being pushed out of their homes, while property owners make room for vacationers.

Instagram / @kirstiwinnberg

Where Mexico City is concerned, this has meant that those fortunate – or, wealthy – enough to own property and land have seized on the opportunity that is Airbnb. Local tenants are finding that they’re being pushed out of their homes, while property owners make room for vacationers willing to pay multiple times the average rent price. “Here in the historic center, we are aware of dozens of buildings that used to be social housing or middle-class housing that have now been completely converted into Airbnb. The biggest apartment buildings are being converted into hotels, but when it isn’t possible to change the legal land use, they are converted into Airbnb,” a local resident said in a recent interview with Truthout. 

But Mexico City isn’t the only city suffering from the rise of Airbnb.

Instagram / @arisoiko_photo

If you thought that this was a problem just for Mexico City, you’d be wrong. Protest posters in Amsterdam read things such as, “Stop the eviction of Amsterdam!” during a December march against the changes Airbnb had brought to the city. Reports from The Guardian say that in 2018, Barcelona received 32 million tourists – which is approximately 20 times the residential population. The city now boasts graffiti saying, “Tourists go home, refugees welcome.”

What’s frustrating locals a lot goes beyond gentrification, into social and cultural shifts.

Instagram / @nurifergar

Locals are seeing their neighborhoods turn into transitory destinations, rather than a community built on strong relationships. “Before Airbnb, you had neighbors you could depend on. They looked out for you. If you went out of town, they’d get your mail, your paper,” New Orleans resident, Janice Coatney, said in an interview with the Huffington Post. “You just had more of a neighborly neighborhood.” 

However, not all is doom and gloom.

Instagram / @riot_code_23

A few countries have introduced legislation in order to curb the socio-economic changes Airbnb has brought to cities around the world. Barcelona authorities placed a moratorium on new hotels in 2015 – and Airbnb hosts are required to hold a license to operate. It’s now illegal for entire apartments to be rented out for less than 30 days in the city of New York. Amsterdam has a cap on the number of nights that Airbnb hosts can rent out their apartments, having reduced that number from 60 to 30. So, policy-wise, these cities are trying to preserve their sense of community, without completely sacrificing their tourism industry.

Another alternative can be found in the aptly-named Fairbnb.

Instagram / @italianembassyinlondon

It’s essentially Airbnb, but with a twist: 50 percent of the revenue made from hosting a visitor is donated to local community projects. Fairbnb has sought to protect neighborhoods by also establishing a “real homesharing” policy – where hosts may only place a maximum of two houses on the Fairbnb market.

Ultimately, though, while we can see the buds of change beginning to blossom, it may be a while yet before it takes root in these gentrified neighborhoods. Here’s hoping that Mexico City won’t suffer too much from the strain of both migration and tourism.