SAN FRANCISCO — Airbnb has hired Hollywood actor and social justice activist Danny Glover as an adviser to reach out to communities of color and encourage more non-white hosts to sign up with the home-rental service.
Glover said he would make sure people of color are taking advantage of "the economic opportunity" of hosting on Airbnb.
"I know Airbnb has had its own share of challenges in this arena," he wrote in a blog post. "But working with them, I’ve seen first-hand how committed they are to getting it right."
In July, Airbnb said it would work with the NAACP to get more people of color to rent their homes on the service. Airbnb said it would share 20% of its earnings from the partnership with the NAACP.
"We will host information sessions and run online and offline campaigns aimed at engaging the people who can benefit from home sharing the most," Glover wrote. "As an advisor, I will be on the ground doing whatever I can to promote these efforts—participating in trainings and events, working with local organizations and faith-based leaders, and getting to know more of the hosts who empower our communities."
Research shows that blacks have been largely left out of the Airbnb home-rental boom.
According to Pew Research, 5% of blacks have used home-rental services compared with 13% of whites.
Earlier this year, Inside Airbnb, a group led by Brooklyn community activist Murray Cox, published a study of 72 black New York City neighborhoods that found that hosts were predominantly white (74%) even though they make up 13.9% of the residents, and they earned more, an estimated $159.7 million versus black hosts who earned $48.3 million.
Glover views Airbnb as a vital source of income and even an economic lifeline for hosts of color. He cited estimates that bookings helped a majority of U.S. Airbnb hosts afford to stay in their homes and, for 12% of North American hosts, avoid eviction or foreclosure.
"Airbnb also allows communities traditionally underserved by the tourism industry to reap the financial rewards of travel, with the share of Airbnb bookings in communities of color in some major cities exceeding the share of local hotel rooms that can be found in them," he wrote.
Glover's hire is the latest effort by Airbnb to root out racism on its service. It instituted a mandatory no discrimination policy which must be signed by all guests and hosts. It has consulted civil rights leaders, made user profiles less prominent and increased the number of "Instant Book" listings. It also guarantees it will find lodging for guests who are unable to book a stay because of discrimination.
Earlier this month when white supremacists came to protest in Charlottesville, Va., Airbnb identified bookings made by white supremacists and kicked them off the service.