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Crime Uptick in Boston Neighborhoods Linked to Airbnb in New Study

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Crime Uptick in Boston Neighborhoods Linked to Airbnb in New Study 1

  • An uptick in crime in certain Boston neighborhoods appears to be linked to the introduction of Airbnb rentals, according to a study out of Northeastern University.
  • Researchers said the uptick in violence was related to the lack of community created by the growth of short-term rentals, Boston.com first reported.
  • Airbnb pushed back against the research in a lengthy blog post, calling it flawed.

An uptick in violence in certain neighborhoods in Boston appears to be linked to an increase of Airbnb rentals in the areas over the span of several years, according to a study published this month.

The study was published July 14 by researchers at Northeastern University in Boston, Boston.com reported on Friday.

Because the increase in violent crime occurred several years after Airbnb rentals were introduced to the area, the researchers linked the uptick in crime to a disruption in the social dynamic in the communities created by the increase in short-term rentals, and not to an increase in tourism.

“Airbnb prevalence in a neighborhood appears to be associated with increases in violence, but not with public social disorder or private conflict,” the study found.

Representatives for Airbnb did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment Saturday.

There were more than 6,000 Airbnb rentals in Boston in 2018, according to the research, more than double the number the city had in 2014, the study said. 

“What’s interesting about social organization is that it’s not really about going over to each other’s houses for backyard barbecues, it’s not knowing all your neighbors” Daniel O’Brien, one of the researchers who conducted the study, told Boston.com. “It’s as little as being familiar strangers.”

Airbnb in a blog post last week appeared to defend itself against claims presented by the researchers.

“The study examines a handful of districts in Boston only, and then extrapolates that into nationwide generalizations without providing detailed evidence,” the company said.

Airbnb also claimed researchers used “inaccurate data” and a “flawed methodology” to reach their conclusions, arguing that researchers didn’t control other variables, like new construction in neighborhoods and the “overall economic conditions.” 

“Over the last year-plus, various reports indicate the unfortunate trend that crime has risen in many American cities (even as travel and tourism, including short-term rentals, have suffered in urban markets). There are many complex issues that contribute to rises and falls in crime rates that require serious research to help inform and guide public policy work,” the company said in the blog post.

It added: “As a society, we should be working to advance serious research. In this context, Airbnb will be formally reaching out to Northeastern University to express our concerns about the lack of academic rigor in this paper and learn more about the protocols the University applies to assure the quality of the research performed by those associated with the school.” 

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