The Real Deal New York

Local pol claims white residents are being followed by city’s Airbnb enforcers

Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright, who made the claim during a budget hearing, said residents in Bed-Stuy had been targeted by the city
February 13, 2019 10:30AM

Mayor Bill de Blasio, Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright, and Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn (Credit: Getty Images and Wikipedia)

White residents are being targeted walking home by the city’s Airbnb enforcers in Bedford-Stuyvesant, a state assembly member claimed this week.

The city’s Office of Special Enforcement has in recent months ramped up its efforts to close illegal Airbnb rentals across the city, after intense lobbying by the hotel industry and affordable housing advocates.

During a budget hearing in Albany on Monday, Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright alleged that members of the city agency had followed and harassed white constituents of her district, according to Crain’s. She didn’t offer further details.

“I have to say at this moment, white members of my community are followed home from the train station by your Office of Special Enforcement,” Wright said, according to the publication. “It is a problem. It is not fair. It’s discriminatory. The practice needs to stop.”

The claim prompted a response from Mayor Bill De Blasio who had just delivered a speech at the hearing, and said it was a “major concern.”

“That is the first time I’m hearing that. I want to take it very seriously,” he said.

Laws introduced by the city and state in recent years ban the rental of unoccupied homes for less than 30 days. Another city law that was expected to take effect this month and would force Airbnb to turn over the names of listing hosts, was blocked by a federal judge.

Across the city, short-term rentals believed to be Airbnbs have been shutdown. One of the largest raids occurred in November at the Atelier luxury residential condominium on the Far West Side, where city agents issued almost two dozen violations.

And in another lawsuit filed by the city last month, landlord Torkian Group was accused of conducting over 1,000 short term rental deals in 13 apartments, which generated $1.1 million in revenue. [Crain’s] — David Jeans