Airbnb gives $2 million to help homeless youth in San Francisco

After facing criticism for contributing to the housing crunch, the home rental company donates millions to fight homelessness.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read

Airbnb is partnering with San Francisco Mayor London Breed to tackle homelessness in the city. The home rental company announced Monday that it will contribute $2 million to specifically assist homeless youth.

"Shelter is a basic need, yet on any given night, nearly 1,200 young people sleep on San Francisco streets," Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said in a statement. "This is our hometown, and we have a responsibility to help those young people in need of housing and job opportunities."

The contribution is part of a $5 million pledge Airbnb announced to fight homelessness in San Francisco in November. The company's plan is to work with lawmakers and community organizations over the next three years. The $2 million will go to a campaign called Rising Up that provides housing and job placement to young people. Cloud communications company Twilio is also contributing $700,000 to the cause.

Airbnb has a complicated relationship with San Francisco and many other cities around the world. While it's created a new way for people to travel and earn an income by renting out their homes, it's often been blamed for contributing to higher rents and lowered vacancy rates. Critics say longterm rentals are taken off the market for Airbnb rentals, which has exacerbated the housing crunch and homelessness.

Over the years, Airbnb has begun collecting taxes to contribute to cities and cracked down on people who rent out several units unlawfully. But, illegal rentals still reportedly happen.

Airbnb has already donated $750,000 over the last two years to local organizations working on homelessness issues in San Francisco. The goal of the new funding to the Rising Up campaign is to cut youth homelessness in half by the end of 2022.

This donation is "catalytic and inspiring," said Sherilyn Adams, executive director of Larkin Street Youth Services, which is the anchor organization for Rising Up. "Investing in young people through Rising Up will not only save lives and change their trajectory, it will also ultimately reduce chronic homelessness in San Francisco." 

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