Mustard Seed campaign uses airbnb ads to raise awareness for homelessness

Travellers looking online for a short-term rental in Calgary over the holiday season may be offered a few cheap but less-than-appealing listings.

'I'll Be Homeless for Christmas' lists spaces for rent where people actually sleep in Calgary.

This listing 'Dreaming of a Warm Christmas' is part of a social media campaign done by Trigger Communications on behalf of the Mustard Seed to raise awareness about the lack of affordable housing in Calgary. (Greg Gerla/

Travellers looking online for a short-term rental in Calgary over the holiday season may be offered a few cheap but less-than-appealing listings.

For $20 dollars a night, the listing reads that you can sleep next to a garbage dumpster.

It's a part of a campaign to raise awareness about the lack of affordable housing in Calgary.

"At first they're probably going to think what is this? Is this a place? And then it looks like a real booking and it's for 20 dollars," said Karen Taylor-Binnie, who works for The Mustard Seed.

"We don't expect anyone to book the space."

Three campaign ads on depict where homeless people in Calgary actually spend their nights.

"Twenty dollars is approximately what an individual gets from social assistance a day, which isn't much to survive on let alone be able to afford a place to live in Calgary," said Taylor-Binnie.

If anyone actually does book, the money goes back to the organization.

The campaign I'll Be Homeless for Christmas, was created by Trigger Communications in Calgary on behalf of The Mustard Seed. It's the first ever PSA done on

Trigger also placed a few cardboard signs around town depicting park benches for rent as part of a guerrilla marketing campaign using the hashtag #givehopeyyc.

"Tonight, there will be 3,500 Calgarians without a place to live. And certainly to us, that’s not acceptable in a community as prosperous and as healthy and as vibrant as ours," said Kim O'Brien.

O'Brien is the chair of Resolve — a group of nine social service agencies working to build 3,000 new affordable housing units in Calgary over the next three years.

"Christmas 2018 will hopefully be a much brighter one for an awful lot of Calgarians," said O'Brien.

She says the vacancy rate in Calgary is 1.4 per cent and 15,000 households are at risk of becoming homeless.

“It’s really tough and you try to make sure that hope still stays alive," she said.

"It’s important to make sure that they know that they’re in a community that supports them, that has decided together … that this is not acceptable in our town and that we are working to come up with a solution."

The listings Dreaming of a Warm Christmas, A Not So Silent Night, and I'll Be Homeless for Christmas  will be up until Christmas Eve.

ON  MOBILE? Watch the I'll Be Homeless for Christmas campaign video. 


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