Airbnb’s business model has drawn both positive and negative critiques. Customers can often save money by staying in a private home rather than a hotel, but some in government have expressed displeasure that Airbnb hosts do not pay hotel taxes. But here’s another, very local wrinkle — a recent Airbnb television ad features a Jamaica Plain resident who says that, because she’s an Airbnb host, she can afford to stay in her home.
When Andrea had trouble footing her housing bills, she turned to Airbnb and began hosting travelers from around the world in her Jamaica Plain “urban oasis,” according to the ad. Today, Andrea shares her home with guests and uses the money to make ends meet, while also advocating for local businesses and her JP community.
“Airbnb has saved me. I did not lose my house…” said Andrea [no last name given] in the ad. “I do this for the money. For the people. For the conversations.”
The ad states that 62 percent of Airbnb hosts in Boston use the money they earn to pay their mortgage or rent, and that 86 percent of Boston Airbnb hosts rent out their primary residence.
In August, Massachusetts legislators decided not to pursue a plan to apply hotel levies to short-term lodgings such as Airbnb. Gov. Charlie Baker did not support raising taxes on short-term rentals, although Airbnb actually did support the tax, according to the Boston Globe. District 1 City Councilor Sal LaMattina supported the tax after leading a hearing in 2015 to determine how companies like Airbnb affect local neighborhoods and the hotel industry.
In the ad, Andrea said Airbnb helps the local economy because hosts like her send people to local restaurants and businesses. If you check out her “guidebook,” it points visitors to a number of JP institutions, including City Feed and Supply, Ten Tables, JP Licks, Doyle’s, JP Seafood Cafe, Brendan Behan Pub and Sorella’s.
“It’s really funny because I’ve never been a big company person,” Andrea said. “But Airbnb as a company has given me the opportunity to change my life and the lives of my children.”