Public Advocate Letitia James Blames Airbnb for Brooklyn’s Affordable Housing Emergency

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If you’re a frequent reader of this site, you may have picked up on a theme: Brooklyn housing prices are skyrocketing, forcing people out of neighborhoods. Letitia Jams, Public Advocate and former Brooklyn City Councilman, has written a scathing letter to the CEO of Airbnb blaming the company for escalating the affordable housing shortage to emergency levels. “By helping turn a portion of our scarce housing supply into short-term rentals, Airbnb and the illegal hotel operators it enables are contributing to the crisis,” James wrote.

James cites a recent study that notes that the median rent in Brooklyn was $2,858 in October of this year, up six percent from 2013, and that almost a fourth of the 8,000 Airbnb units available are in Bed-Stuy, Bushwick, Greenpoint, and Fort Greene, all neighborhoods that have seen enormous rent hikes in the last five years. In the letter, obtained by Bedford + Bowery, James also points the finger at Airbnb for aiding the process of evicting people of color from their homes.

“Another unintended consequence we have seen is that increasing rents coupled with Airbnb growth in neighborhoods where affordable housing is scarce has led to a gentrification of communities of color,” James wrote. “Long-time residents and local small businesses that can no longer afford the high rent costs are being driven from their neighborhoods, replaced by transient guests and big chain stores.”

James closes by praising Mayor de Blasio for beginning to take action against Airbnb, and urging the CEO to do an internal crackdown of “illegal hotel kingpins” who are shifting apartments into unlicensed hotels. “Airbnb must do a diligent job of self-policing,” James warns, in order to “stop the hemorrhaging of our city’s affordable housing and rent-protected units.”

 

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1 COMMENT

  1. I whole heartedly disaggree.
    Airbnb is not the problem, but a symptom of a much bigger problem, and it is that of developers having free range to completely change the landscape and profit off of which ever neighborhood the real estate people are saying is hip. Developers do not live or participate in the communities that they build in, they are just there to make money!
    Airbnb has helped many New Yorkers continue to live in, and keep their continually sky rocketing leases. It is also a world wide network that helps people travel and experience places in a more intimate way than staying in an expensive hotel. I use airbnb in New York City to subsidize my rent and income, but let me tell you, I would prefer to just live in my apartment by myself!!
    Wages have not gone up as quickly as rents have in New York City. The Mayor should stop picking on struggling individuals who give character to this city, and look at the bigger picture: wages vs development.

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