The Real Deal New York

Clergy members say anti-Airbnb group used their names in letter without permission

Hotel-backed Share Better is in a bitter fight with home-sharing company
June 01, 2018 05:50PM

Neal Kwatra from Share Better (Credit: Metropolitan Public Strategies and iStock)

Three black clergy members whose names appeared on a letter accusing Airbnb of “exploiting” people of color say their signatures were included without their consent.

Rev. Patrick Young and Bishop Mitchell Taylor of Queens and Rev. Fred Crawford of the Bronx were among 15 original signatories on a letter organized by the hotel-industry backed Share Better group that accuses Airbnb of “predatory housing schemes,” Politico reported.

But the clergymen said they’re strong supporters of Airbnb and were “stunned” to be listed as critics.

“As African-American faith leaders serving New York’s communities of color, we can see how we check a few key demographic boxes that could help you spin your web of lies about home sharing in New York,” the clergymen’s group, Mobilizing Preachers and Communities, said in a statement responding to Share Better.

“We will not sit by and be used as a token in your crusade to shore up the hotel industry’s profits,” they added.

Share Better, though, said the three signatories agreed to be part of the letter, but then changed their minds because MPAC “receives significant funding from Airbnb,” spokesperson Austin Shafran said.

Airbnb and Share Better are locked in a bitter public relations battle as they fight over the future of home sharing in the city and state. The City Council is planning to introduce a bill that would require Airbnb to report the addresses of listings to city regulators. [Politico] – Rich Bockmann