Homelessness charity Emmaus Bristol has been criticised on social media for its decision to list two housing pods on AirBnB.
The primary accusation levied at Emmaus is that AirBnB contributes to homelessness by removing stock from the housing market. The eco-pods, however, do not meet the minimum legal space requirements for living.
The pods, which will fund the support Emmaus provides to those experiencing homelessness, represent an innovative approach to the social enterprise model against a challenging national and local financial backdrop.
Voscur supports and celebrates the entrepeneurialship demonstrated by Emmaus, in its pursuit of social benefit.
Xanne Carey, Interim Chief Executive at Emmaus Bristol said: “It’s really important to note that we are very aware of the housing crisis in Bristol and it was really important to us that, by constructing a new enterprise, we would not be removing any homes from the current housing stock, or using space that could be used for a home.
“We are extremely proud to have achieved this, whilst giving visitors to Bristol the opportunity to support a local charity with their holiday spend.
“We always intended for the Eco Pods to be a social enterprise. They were built for this purpose and have never been intended as affordable housing as they do not meet legal minimum space requirements for living.
“The Eco Pods are an extension of our multi-enterprise site here at Backfields, making use of a small amount of air space over our working yard, to help Emmaus Bristol generate the income it needs to support 21 Companions
“Our Companions have their own room with a shared kitchen and living spaces at our main accommodation site.
“The individuals we support have a home with us for as long as they need it, whilst receiving tailored support to rebuild their lives.
“The purpose of the eco pods is to provide long-term financial support for the Emmaus community they serve and the Companions we support now and in future, and to do this is a way that reduces impact on the environment by using natural and cardon sequestering materials.
“Whilst these units are too small for living accommodation, the principle of prefabricated units that can be lifted into place is something that we are investigating for an entirely separate project for the rooftop of our building, which will provide affordable housing.
“To that end, the Eco Pods are not only going to generate important income for us, they are also providing a ‘live’ sample of the type of materials and construction concept that could be used to develop homes on our rooftop.
“Planning permission has been granted for us to add 15 new homes, made using this construction method, to the rooftop here at Backfields House - homes that would be fit for living, meeting minimum space requirements, areas for growing food and other plants, and provide a community to belong to at the same time.
“This is a much bigger project that we would need to raise funds for and you can find more information on our website.”