Man Uses Airbnb To Rent Out Tent On Skid Row For $10
There are a lot of quirky places to stay on Airbnb, and really that's part of the charm. There's also a guy who is offering tourists the chance to sleep in a tent on Skid Row for $10.
This is truly an exercise in recreational slumming: something the very unfortunate do on a daily basis and something the well-off do for "an experience."
The offer comes from Barry Boen, who says he lives in a penthouse six stories above Skid Row with his girlfriend and an 11-year-old greyhound named Bella. His LinkedIn indicates he's an artist and photographer who also works in law. The listing states that the tent will accommodate two people, pets are allowed and amenities include breakfast and wifi:
Located in the heart of Skid Row, your private tent near the corner of 6th and San Pedro will give you the experience of what life is like living on Skid Row. Your neighbor and concierge, Dice will be there to help you settle into to this new way of living and be able to answer any questions you may have.
Dice appears to be a local man who lives on the streets that Barry has befriended. According to the listing, Dice "knows the ropes and all the tricks of the trade," and "living like a King on Skid Row is easy with Dice on your side!" The free breakfasts are courtesy of neighboring missions, and there are apparently bathrooms and showers located nearby, as well as parking. You know, because you—unlike your Skid Row neighbors—may own a car. Dice probably knows where these things are located.
Guests must be at least 18, and checkout time is 8 a.m. You must get up at 6 a.m. and break the tent down. This isn't just Barry's rule, but the City's law. Check-in is at 5 p.m.
Barry promises you will hear and smell things you never wanted to experience. Great.
Because Barry is an artist and this is sort of an odd concept, we weren't sure it was a real offer. Plus, when I tried to book the tent, it only offered me dates in 2016. So, I sent Barry a message hinting that I was a reporter who was curious about the tent.
Barry wrote me back, saying there "were few things in life more Real than my listing and the colorful locals and temporary visitors that one will encounter staying here." He told me he's been living in his spot for over a year, and that he makes art. I found a YouTube video he posted of a bag of trash being thrown out a window on New Year's Eve like a ball drop.
Barry said that a sociology student who was doing some research for a project just stayed in the tent recently. He said he would check into the booking issues. I tried to book the tent again today, but still no vacancies until 2016.
Now, there's two ways to look at a situation like this. Maybe people who stay here will come away with more empathy for the homeless and maybe they'll use that knowledge and empathy to help. Maybe Dice gets the $10 for being a good neighbor to the guests. Or maybe, it's a crass way to turn what for some is a tragic reality into some kind of packaged extreme tourism experience for those with an extra $10 and a spare Saturday night. Either way, Barry's guests get to pack it up, go home and sleep in their own beds.