As home-sharing company Airbnb continues to fight against regulations in cities like San Francisco and New York, the company is touting the benefits it brings to seniors.
On Monday, Airbnb released a report that paints home-sharing as an important source of income for older hosts, especially those struggling to afford to continue living in their homes. The report is co-authored by Gene Sperling, formerly a National Economic Advisor and Director of the National Economic Council under Presidents Clinton and Obama.
The report’s main argument is that as people age, their income tends to dramatically decrease. In turn, this means that their mortgage eats up a larger portion of their income, sometimes at unsustainable levels. For Americans between the ages of 65 and 75, a $1,500 monthly mortgage payment represents 49% of their income, according to 2014 U.S. census data, and this grows to 63% of income for Americans over age 75. The recommended guidelines for housing costs is roughly 30%.
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To avoid moving away from their current homes or taking on additional financing, Airbnb says that home-sharing provides a significant source of additional income. On average, Airbnb hosts over the age of 65 make $8,350 annually via home-sharing. The company estimates that this can bring down the monthly portion of income spent on housing to 26% for hosts between the ages of 65 and 75, and to 34% for hosts over 75, assuming a monthly mortgage of $1,500.
The report does not provide details about older hosts without monthly mortgage or rent payments and the economic impact of home-sharing.
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It should be noted that the latest report is in line with Airbnb’s efforts to portray itself as a company helping the middle class make ends meet, especially as it’s increasingly accused of contributing to housing shortage in cities like San Francisco. Airbnb says that as of April, 320,000 hosts over the age of 60 have earned a total of $747 million through the company’s service.
But the company’s longstanding reluctance to provide transparency into its business to city officials leaves questions about how much of its interests are really about helping the middle class. Only recently did the company become more open to providing local officials with more data.