Facilitating Housing JusticeBy Stephanie Diamond
June 11, 2020
This year, as hundreds of thousands of people around the world protested police violence against Black people, some of you reached out to ask us how we think about housing justice. As part of our commitment to accountability to our community, we decided to respond to those inquiries publicly.
While the racism of the criminal justice system has been the focus this year, racism is also present throughout our institutions and communities. Operating at the intersection of art, real estate and technology, we have long been concerned about how racism has plagued these spaces. As part of our commitment to anti-racist action, we have worked to cultivate a community and a platform that is inclusive, where people can interact in a way that is respectful, life-affirming and anti-oppressive.
Here are a few of the ways we foster inclusivity and equity:
Community members who post listings are required to agree to our Equity and Inclusion statement which provides anti-oppressive guidance for interacting with listers and participating in Listings Project. As of this week, we are also requiring anyone who wants to view our listings to agree to our Equity and Inclusion statement before they can access our list.
On the infrequent occasion that we receive complaints about racist, classist or other abusive behavior by listers on our platform, we investigate the complaint and, when necessary, we block the offending lister. We also provide resources for reporting discrimination in these situations.
We do regular anti-racist training with our staff, and we will continue to invest in this kind of professional development both for individual employees and for our team as a whole.
We do not allow brokers, managers, third party entities, or any spaces with fees to be posted on our site. Though not a panacea, this helps keep the cost of renting spaces lower than it otherwise would be and protects our community from some of the more predatory elements in the real estate industry. This also ensures that the listers offering the space are more intimately involved with the community than an outside third party.
We read and vet each and every listing we receive, corresponding personally with all of our listers. We also read listings carefully for discriminatory language. When we find discriminatory language, we speak to the lister and remove it (for example, we never allow the word “safe” to be used in listings).
We ask listers to lower rent when we receive a listing that is priced substantially higher than market rates.
As often as possible, we choose listings from BIPOC members of the community to feature in our weekly Listing Spotlights.
These measures have helped Listings Project grow into a community we are proud of. However, in the face of the rampant and ongoing oppression of people of color, we recognize that it’s just a start. Here are a few of the things we will be doing as part of our long-term commitment to a just and equitable future:
We will assemble a board of paid advisors to help us continue to make Listings Project as inclusive and equitable as it can be.
We will donate 1% of our annual revenue to housing justice organizations.
We will educate our listers on the role of background checks in housing discrimination.
We will continue to revisit our Equity and Inclusion statement to ensure that it is providing up-to-date and actionable guidance to our community and our organization.
If you have any questions about these plans, our organization or the way we operate, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are here for you and for our community as a whole, we are committed to this work for the long-term and we are grateful for your contributions on the journey.
Feature image courtesy of Artistic Noise
Stephanie Diamond is the founder and CEO of Listings Project. She is also a social practice artist and a certified 5Rhythms dance teacher. You can learn more about her work at www.stephaniediamond.com.