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L.A. Sentinel, Taste of Soul Partner Airbnb Hosts Community Reception for South L.A. 
By Brian W. Carter, Contributing Writer
Published May 3, 2018

Airbnb representatives from L to R: (Top Row) Kevin Brunke, John Choi, Steve Ferguson,
Cynthia Chou, Saul Sanchez, Leslie Hope (Bottom Row) Natalie Cilem, Phuong Bui, Peggy
Sturdivant, Robin Cole, Shanthi Bolla, Julia Casillas. (Mesiyah E. McGinnis/ L.A. Sentinel)

In a growingly divisive world, one company is trying to turn that tide into a more positive direction. Airbnb is all about creating a community where everyone benefits from each other— a sharing economy. The “bed and breakfast” company wants to bring that concept to South Los Angeles.

On Thursday, April 26, Airbnb with partners, the L.A. Sentinel and Taste of Soul, presented a community reception at the Museum of African American Art (MAAA) in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza to share with attendees about the opportunities Airbnb is bringing to the table.

“Airbnb is really about giving people an opportunity to turn what’s typically they’re greatest expense, which is their home, whether their paying rent or mortgage, and turn that into an actual economic engine,” said John Choi, Southern California Policy Manager for Airbnb.

He continued, “Hosts in Los Angeles are able to typically make anywhere from $9,000 and up depending on how often they host—and that’s real money that can help make ends meet. We’re talking about money to help pay for groceries, offset rent [and] save for college.”

More and more, people are deciding to list their homes on Airbnb to make extra income simply by giving someone a place to hang their hat. What’s great about joining with Airbnb is hosts get to create their own profiles for their property, choose their price, availability and guidelines for guests. Guests will be able to search for lodgings with a host whether it’s a room, entire home or a unique accommodation. Both hosts and guests confirm travel dates, expectations and pay through Airbnb. Altogether, it makes for an experience where people learn new things about each other and create a memorable experience.

“I’ve been with Airbnb for two years now—I love it,” said Peggy Sturdivant, an Airbnb Host Ambassador. “Airbnb does all the leg work—they verify [guests].”

Born and raised in South L.A., Sturdivant heard about Airbnb through others but it was Beyoncѐ’s Super Bowl speech about the company that changed her mind ultimately.  She has been an Uber driver and worked through Ebay but found a better solution in becoming a host with Airbnb. Sturdivant enjoys being able to work from home, entertain guests from other countries and change the way people look at South L.A.

“The only thing people hear about [South L.A.] is on the news,” said Sturdivant. “Now, when [guests] come in, they’re like, ‘Oh, is it safe? Can I go outside?’ and I’m like, ‘Yes it is, it’s safe, you can go outside.’”

She continued, “I get a chance to talk about their home towns, learn how they travel, how they live, their expenses—it’s like a new family.

“I’m almost setting up a bonding because I get Christmas cards from them.”

“Just about 33% of our hosts in Los Angeles have told us that the income they earn from home sharing has helped them avoid foreclosure or eviction and that’s a really meaningful impact,” said Choi.

Actually, Airbnb has observed that South Los Angeles is becoming one of the fastest growing areas in the city. Its demographics along with its rich culture, growing business opportunities and expo line access make the area an excellent candidate for Airbnb business. The opportunities for economic empowerment is great and many locals are considering it.

Jerome Wiley, a South L.A. resident, came out to the community reception to learn more about Airbnb. He is considering becoming an Airbnb host, which he feels will help increase his business.

“I have a rental property, monthly rent but if their numbers work correctly, Airbnb will actually generate more revenue than a monthly rental,” said Wiley.

Amanda Woodson is also a South L.A. resident, who has always been interested in Airbnb. Her father recently passed away leaving her to manage a fourplex apartment building. She feels Airbnb will help her to utilize the building better while garnering more income.

“I definitely want to let people have the opportunity and … I just want to participate at the highest level and I figure Airbnb is the way to go,” said Woodson.

Airbnb Host, Peggy Sturdivant with John Choi, Pamela Bakewell
and Cynthia Chou following her presentation. (Mesiyah E. McGinnis/ L.A. Sentinel)

“What’s different about Airbnb is it makes sure that the money is actually staying here in local communities,” said Choi.

“Ninety-Seven percent of the money that hosts charge for booking stay with that host—they’re able to set their own prices, they’re able to keep that money and what that really means is that money stimulates the local economy, small businesses and overall, it’s a win-win for Los Angeles.”

Airbnb are proud partners with Taste of Soul, which has given the company better insight into the community. It’s at the largest family festival in SoCal and they have gotten the chance to meet the community the last few years. It’s no surprise that it’s a wonderful partnership as both Airbnb and Taste of Soul share the same mission—unity.

“Its such an incredible event [Taste of Soul], it brings people from all over, not just L.A., all over Southern California,” said Choi. “It’s part of Airbnb’s mission to really bring people together, to create a place, a world where everyone can belong, anywhere and Taste of Soul is doing that.”

He continued, “It’s a natural fit for us to really partner with Taste of Soul, the L.A. Sentinel, really such a core part of the community here in L.A.”

The Airbnb reception at MAAA saw a large turnout of South L.A. residents interested to hear what Airbnb is offering the community. Attendees participated in break off sessions as they listened to Airbnb personnel share the benefits of becoming hosts. Everyone that attended left with information and the possibility of becoming Airbnb hosts.

“What we saw tonight is a tremendous amount of interest,” said Choi. “I think people are excited—it’s a signal that every day people really want to participate.”

“All I can tell anybody that’s interested that has an extra room, needs some extra income—it’s the thing to do,” said Sturdivant.

For more information on Airbnb, please visit their website at www.airbnb.com.

Categories: A Taste of Soul | Business | Crenshaw & Around | Economy | Local | News | News (Business)
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