The Airbnb Project

Actively supporting low-income and homeless neighbors in NYC

How can New Yorkers come together to help protect and expand housing for low-income and homeless individuals and families?

For the last six months I have been researching ways that Airbnb hosts in NYC can donate a percentage of their payouts to charity, and specifically to the NYC affordable housing charity Breaking Ground (mission statement below).

I have zero affiliation with Breaking Ground or Airbnb but as an architectural historian and teacher focused on issues of gentrification, I’m very interested in ways that we can use existing systems to help everyone experience more equity in their communities.

Airbnb brings great economic benefits to neighborhoods, individuals, and families (I’m one of them!) but it also plays a part in accelerating gentrification, and removes rooms and apartments from the general housing stock. Airbnb is not going away anytime soon, so how can we use it as a platform for taking care of those who need it in our community and finding ways to maintain and expand low-income and homeless housing initiatives?

Giving to Breaking Ground is one very tangible way to create a reciprocal flow between the benefits of Airbnb for individuals, and the benefits it could bring to those on the very edges of NYC housing.

It feels right to give back to our immediate community, to help others have a roof over their heads, and Airbnb guests LOVE to know their holiday bookings make a social impact.

There’s a very simple way on the back end of your host dashboard to route a small percentage (we route 3%, but even 1% can make a difference) of your payment directly to charity.

The details for Breaking Ground’s giving page are here:

  1. On the Airbnb end, you sign into your account and go from the main page to Dashboard >>> Account (find this up at the top menu bar) >>> Payout Preferences (left hand side menu bar) >>> Add payout method.


  1. Input the details from the Breaking Ground page. Sometimes it takes 3-5 business days to process.
  1. You will then be able to pick the percentage payout made–I choose 97% to us, 3% to Breaking Ground (see screenshot below). I don’t even notice it gone from my payout.


  1. It doesn’t apply retroactively, so my husband and I wrote a check and mailed it at the end of each month until new bookings happened and it took effect automatically. It’s not much when one person does it, but a critical mass via Airbnb would make a significant impact.
  1. If you know anyone else who is an Airbnb host in NYC, please do share the word—friends obviously make a big difference in impacting who participates.


Breaking Ground’s mission is to strengthen individuals, families and communities by developing and sustaining exceptional supportive and affordable housing as well as programs for homeless and other vulnerable New Yorkers.

Breaking Ground’s success in ending homelessness is built on a housing model that targets individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

For the chronically homeless, they create safe, secure housing, with essential on-site support services to help them address the psychosocial, mental, and physical health problems that are obstacles to independent living.

For individuals who find themselves at the edge of homelessness, their affordable housing provides an all-important safety net.

For both populations, they strive to create strong, vibrant communities within their buildings and to strengthen the neighborhoods in which their buildings are located through a commitment to social inclusion.

Breaking Ground has created and operates thousands of units of affordable permanent and transitional housing in the northeastern United States and has approximately one thousand more currently in development.

Breaking Ground also manages the innovative street outreach program, Street to Home, which connects the most entrenched, long-term homeless individuals with housing and other critical supportive services.

Their work has enabled more than 7,000 people to overcome or avoid homelessness.