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​Airbnb teams up with SF Giants to help homeless families

In a goodwill gesture, the home rental company will donate upward of $250,000 to a local community organization this season.

Nathan Blecharczyk (left), Airbnb co-founder and chief technology officer, and Larry Baer (right), president and CEO of the San Francisco Giants, stand at home plate with Tomiquia Moss, Hamilton Families CEO, and a family that found housing with the help of the locally based homeless services organization.

Claudia Cruz/CNET

Airbnb continues to try to mend its relationship with the city of San Francisco, and it may have finally scored a home run.

The home rental company said Wednesday a partnership with the SF Giants baseball club to donate $1,000 for every run scored by the hometown team this baseball season for a maximum contribution of $300,000. Hamilton Families Center, a local homeless services provider, will be the sole beneficiary. Airbnb's donation mounts to $250,000 and the Giants will take care of the rest, and fortunately for Hamilton Family Center, the SF Giants' average 300 runs batted in a year.

"We are always looking for creative opportunities to give back," Nathan Blecharczyk, an Airbnb co-founder and its chief technology officer, said near home plate at AT&T Park on Wednesday. "We try to use what we uniquely stand for which is housing and empowerment. So when we look at opportunities to give back, we look at these types of things."

Airbnb has felt the growing pains of its success, whether it be at its homebase of San Francisco or around the world. It's been accused of depleting the housing stock that in turn has caused rents to rise and people to lose their homes. Municipalities have also complained about losing out on the hotel taxes it collects from visitors. Even though Airbnb boasts listings in 34,000 cities, these and other issues have been raised by local officials to stall the home rental companies growth in many locations. But Airbnb wants to resolve as many of these concerns as it moves toward an IPO in the next year.

To show that it's a good neighbor however, a year ago Airbnb instituted a policy called the "One Host, One Home" in San Francisco and New York where it restricts the number of homes, to one, that each host can list on the platform. It recently enforced this policy in San Francisco and pulled 923 listings that violated the rule.

The startup now also collects an occupancy tax, also known as a hotel or tourist tax, in more than 200 jurisdictions. In 2016, Airbnb collected and remitted to San Francisco $19 million in occupancy tax. Of the taxes that Airbnb collects for Chicago, for example, $5 million to support homeless services.

San Francisco has about 1,145 chronically homeless families with about 1,800 children. Hamilton Families hopes to place 800 of these families in homes by 2019.

Airbnb said that it wants to help other cities where they operate with their challenges and struggles and would consider replicating this program to both contribute and raise awareness.

"With every city we want to use an individualized approach, just like we do from the policy perspective," Blecharczyk said. "But we are also always looking for ways that play into what our core competency is."

This is in part why, when Giants President and CEO Larry Baer looked for a company to partner with and fundraise for Hamilton Families, he thought of Airbnb. Baer said that once, Brian Chesky, the CEO and co-founder of Airbnb, told him at a baseball game he sought to "find a way to get involved in the city in a meaningful way."

"So the light bulb went off," Baer told CNET. "They wanted to make an impact, and the words 'home,' 'homeless' and 'heading home,' as the campaign got started, resonated. Airbnb was the perfect partner."