AirBnb

The Disgruntled D.C. Resident in That Anti-Airbnb Ad Isn't Who She Says She Is

"I'm tired of feeling like an outsider in my own neighborhood," she says. Maybe that's because she's an actress from New York.

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A concerned, motherly voice pleads for your attention. Soft piano music plays. We see shots of a quiet neighborhood street in Anacostia, a traditionally black community on the eastern side of Washington, D.C.

"I was 5 years old when we moved to the neighborhood, but it doesn't feel like the place I grew up or where I raised my children," says the unnamed woman, whose grayed hair suggests that she's old enough to be wise and trusted, even as her voice carries hints of youthful vigor worn down by the sadness of her story. Shots of her family photos. More sad music.

What has caused this woman so much pain? Commercial landlords using Airbnb, she says. They have evicted her neighbors from their homes without a care, knowing they can make more money by renting to strangers and tourists.

"We end up with higher rents and less affordable housing," she says. "I'm tired of feeling like an outsider in my own neighborhood."

Indeed, the woman in the ads is a stranger in Anacostia. And if her appearance, voice, and mannerisms seem like something out of central casting, it's because they are. Because the woman in the ad is not a resident of Anacostia, but is an actress from New York City, NBC-4 reported Wednesday.

Share Better DC, the nonprofit connected to the hotel industry that is responsible for the ad, confirmed that she is an actress but claimed that the ad was intended to depict the real experiences D.C. residents have had with Airbnb in multiple neighborhoods, NBC-4 says.

Fittingly, the fake Anacostia resident who can't believe how much her neighborhood has changed was outed by a real longtime Anacostia resident: Greta Fuller, who posted on Twitter that Airbnb has made her neighborhood a better place.

"Far too long has our community been labeled as a place not to visit, but through Airbnb people have found a gem and a host of great people living in Washington, D.C.," Fuller wrote. That's something, she added, that "no agency or entity has ever done for our community."

The ad is intended to sway public support in favor of a bill that would put new limits on how property owners in Washington, D.C., can use services like Airbnb. Dozens of residents testified at a public hearing last week on the proposal to cap the number of days that homes could be rented through short-term rental services. There's no timetable for a final city council vote on the bill.

Emily Cullum, a spokeswoman for the Travel Technology Association, a trade association that advocates for transparency and competition in the hospitality marketplace, told Reason that the ad makes it look like Share Better "couldn't locate a resident with a real story to fit their anti-short term rental narrative, so they went ahead and made one up."

"Short-term rentals help residents like Greta Fuller make ends meet while welcoming visitors to neighborhoods that hotels have shown no interest in servicing," Cullum wrote in an email. "The D.C. City Council needs to recognize that corporate interests are using deceptive practices to wage war on D.C. residents who open their homes to travelers."

In a broader way, this ad represents the opening of a new front in the ongoing war between the hotel industry and the room-sharing services that have cracked open the hospitality market.

As Reason reported last week, documents leaked from meetings of the American Hotel and Lodging Association show how national hotel lobbyists played a role in convincing some city and state governments to enact anti-Airbnb rules over the past year.

The next step, according to minutes of an AHLA gathering in November of last year, was to make the fight more personal—with ads like the one now running on Washington, D.C., area TV stations.

To build on their perceived successes in 2016, the AHLA outlined several strategies to implement in 2017. Among them: "Aggressively counter Airbnb's 'we're just helping the middle-class make ends meet' narrative with a wave of personal testimonials of consumer harm through a 'My Neighborhood' paid and social campaign.

In other words, expect more of this to be popping up in ads across the country, wherever Airbnb and hotel officials are clashing over residents' right to do what they want on their own property. But the thing about "personal testimonials" is that they really only work when the person behind them is telling the truth.

(Photo credit: Yin Bogu Xinhua News Agency/Newscom)

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  1. But she did really tear up at the sight of all that litter, right?

    1. Yes, then she received a visit from Ralph Cifaretto.

  2. Leftards and losers (but I repeat myself) never figure out until it’s too late that when you’re a renter, it’s not really “your neighborhood”.

    1. And Yokel Onos like you never figured out that even if you own, it is not your neighborhood, unless you own the whole neighborhood.

      1. Can I still say “our house in the middle of our street” even though it is a state road?

        1. No. Report to the wood chipper for … reeducation.

      2. RE ownership is not recognized by govt. The best you can do is have a life lease. If you doubt me try not paying your “lease fee” (property tax). And try not getting those permits and inspections for changes.

    2. It’s never “your neighborhood” unless you own the whole thing. Plenty of right-tards make the same mistake when talking about immigration and several other issues as if the whole country is their private property.

  3. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for DC to give a crap what the resident serfs want – these are the asswipes that tried extorting Walmart on the grounds that Walmart was going to screw over the citizenry by building stores in DC and offering low prices on tons of merchandise.

    1. offering low prices on tons of merchandise

      Those MONSTERS!

  4. They should have had her walk through an AirBnB neighborhood to see if she got a lot of unwanted attention from black men.

  5. The Disgruntled D.C. Resident in That Anti-Airbnb Ad Isn’t Who She Says She Is

    Of course Eric thinks everyone must be familiar with ads airing in and around DC. smh

    1. Well, it is the center of the world.

  6. I remember, back when our neighborhood used to be children on bikes, playing kick the can, into the night, under the streetlights. No one locked their doors, and everyone felt safe.

    Now it’s all hookers, drug dealers, and gang bangers. Children being abducted as sex slaves. Child pimps. Bars over broken windows, and gunshots all night.

    And it all happened because of AirBnB.

    Damn you, AirBNB. Damn you to hell!

  7. The proggie’s golden rule-Never let facts get in the way of a good narrative. Yeah-let’s go back to rent control, that worked out great…

  8. How is that not fraud?

    1. there’s a union behind it. So all good.


  9. But the thing about “personal testimonials” is that they really only work when the person behind them is telling the truth.

    I’m surprised you didn’t have to take at least basic advertising in your journalism degree. If you had, you would realize that this line is bullshit. ‘Personal Testimonial’ advertisements are virtually always paid actors and, amazingly, the people who watch don’t really give a shit if it’s an actor or an actual person because they can’t discern the difference on the idiot box.

    Even if they put the little box that’s usually required of ‘paid actor’ people don’t care one way or the other. I can’t watch this video at work, but I’m curious if there was that disclaimer anywhere in the video or not.

    FTC Guidelines on Testimonials & Endorsements

    1. I’m curious if there was that disclaimer anywhere in the video or not.

      Nope.

      1. Hmm…well after thinking about this a bit more I’m not as sure as I was since the FTC guidelines are specifically for advertisers but this particular message is actually a political ad (I think) which has different guidelines and if I’m recalling correctly the mandate there is to disclose the funding source which it sounds like they did. Not being able to watch the video makes it hard to say for sure.

  10. Who has seen better call saul? This reminds me of the shit Saul pulled last season

  11. Commercial landlords using Airbnb… They have evicted her neighbors from their homes without a care, knowing they can make more money by renting to strangers and tourists.

    Am I mis-reading what they’re claiming is happening here? It sounds like they’re claiming that apartment owners/ landlords are evicting tenants in order to make space for AirBnB short-term renters. They expect us to believe that a commercial landlord can make more money renting apartments short-term through AirBnB than through a long term lease? I call bullshit.

    1. This is the prog line that is currently being repeated, Journo-list-style, from Vancouver to LA to NY. I say Journolist because it’s odd when the same articles, sometimes using the same examples, pops up in multiple news outlets around the country and is not because it’s from a nationally syndicated column.

      1. It’s not that odd considering that most publications just parrot whatever the public relations release says with a little rewriting to make it less obvious that it’s the exact same source everyone else is going off of.

        This is literally what happens at a whole lot of ‘mainstream’ news publications. It’s simple, easy, and fills up your daily quota of releases. Taking the time and effort to dig into them is more work than editing and pushing it out and doesn’t necessarily increase the eyeballs on your page when you can just write an inflammatory title to get the same effect.

        In most cases it’s just laziness rather than malice. The malice is (usually) what you find on the editorial pages.

  12. “I was 5 FAKE years old when we FAKE moved to the FAKE neighborhood, but it doesn’t FAKE feel like the FAKE place I FAKE grew up, or where I FAKE raised my FAKE children.”

  13. So how, exactly, is Airbnb any different than your typical vacation rental in Cape Cod, Maryland, etc.? Granted, Washington DC would be one of the last places I would want to vacation, but I can see this sort of legislation ultimately destroying vacation rentals as well.

  14. A govt. was instituted after independence to protect rights. The means was by initiation of force with a moral exemption.

    That doesn’t work to protect our rights. It does the opposite. Govt. is the primary violator of rights. It turns us into a dog – eat – dog nation of special interests, all trying to use govt. force at the expense of others.

    We need to correct our mistake. We need to remove the moral exemption and judge govt. as we do business. We need to revoke the govt. privilege to use violence, threat thereof, and fraud. It’s the only fair and humane way to live.

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