Airbnb

Aglez the city guy/Flickr

Florida International University (FIU) in Miami has a starring role in a plot twist involving the ongoing saga between the hotel industry and home-sharing companies like Airbnb. 

FIU, a state university that gets some of its funding from Florida taxpayers, had been selected for a grant worth over $68,000 from the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation (AHLEF). The grant would have been used to study the safety and security of short-term rentals like Airbnb.

Since its inception nearly a decade ago, Airbnb has faced questions from people of color as to whether the company's worldwide "vacancy" sign really applied to them.

The company has been plagued by allegations and several lawsuits, predominantly but not exclusively from African-Americans, claiming discrimination.

Lisette Poole / Airbnb

In Miami-Dade County, Airbnb has become a big business and political controversy. But across the Florida Straits in Cuba, there are few complaints about the online lodging service.

In fact, Airbnb is urging the Trump Administration not to roll back normalized relations with Cuba. And it’s stepping into Cuba politics because it’s doing so well in Cuba business. This week Airbnb reports that Cubans have netted $40 million the past two years by using the online service to rent their homes and rooms to short-term visitors.

This week on The Florida Roundup...

By next month, hotel taxes from Airbnb guests will be collected and paid in two South Florida counties. Both the Miami-Dade and Broward County commissions approved separate agreements this week with the home-sharing site over the counties' taxes and hotel rooms. 

C.M. Guerrero / Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

Its economy relies to an absurd extent on the low-wage tourism sector. Because it lacks higher-wage, tech-oriented jobs, its average citizens struggle to bridge the chasm between their incomes and their exorbitant living costs.

But so what? It’s a sunny town on a bay with muy caliente Latin flavor. The visitors and their money will keep coming and keep the place afloat. Besides, it’s got more important things to worry about – like a mortal political enemy 90 miles away.

A proposal to halt local regulation of vacation rentals passed in committee Tuesday after a heated debate over private property and community rights.

CHABELI HERRERA / MIAMI HERALD

This week on The Florida Roundup...

Miami-Dade County has inked a deal with Airbnb for the home-sharing company to collect and pay hotel taxes. Yet, the city of Miami and Miami Beach continue to pushback against the service and its hosts.