The Buzz

Emanuel Cleaver raises questions about Airbnb


Kansas City Congressman Emanuel Cleaver on Thursday took after the popular online accommodation site Airbnb for what he said was discriminatory practices.

In a letter to the CEO of Airbnb written with North Carolina Rep. G.K. Butterfield, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, the two said black consumers seeking accommodations are being rejected when, in fact, it appears vacation homes and other rental properties are available.

The Airbnb site features a guest profile page, which includes space for a photograph and other details about guests, Cleaver said.

“Perhaps we, as a nation, have not moved as much as we like to brag that we have regarding discrimination, and homeowners just do not want people of a different race in their homes,” Cleaver said in a statement. “If that is the case, you should not be permitted to utilize an interstate commerce platform such as Airbnb.”

Said Butterfield, “We sincerely hope the leadership of Airbnb will take the issue of discrimination seriously and implement common sense measures to prevent such discrimination and ill-treatment of its customers in the future.”

The two said they want Airbnb to review the accusations and put an end to discriminatory practices. The key, they said, will be a new policy that bars renters from posting the availability of their units for 48 hours after they rejected someone seeking to rent a unit.