Airbnb a big threat to affordable housing: OPINION

Tenant organizers say company is taking low rent apartments off the market

From left: Jonathan Westin, the Airbnb logo and Jaron Benjamin
From left: Jonathan Westin, the Airbnb logo and Jaron Benjamin

Airbnb is taking units off the market in areas where there is already a lack of affordable housing, say Jaron Benjamin, the executive director of the Met Council, and Jonathan Westin, the executive director of New York Communities for Change.

Airbnb’s effect is most seriously felt in “the neighborhoods where the issue is most critical (like Midtown, the Upper West Side and Greenwich Village),” Benjamin and Westin write.

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The two also argue that there are high concentrations of Airbnb units in neighborhoods — such as Harlem, Williamsburg and Bedford-Stuyvesant — where rent increases are already forcing out longtime residents.

More than 13,000 units in New York City are being used as illegal hotels, Benjamin and Westin claim, “where they could be used as housing units.”

“If we can’t count on our leaders in Albany and City Hall to stop Airbnb from gutting the illegal hotel law,” according to Benjamin’s and Westin’s op-ed in the Daily News, “we can’t trust them to renew and strengthen the rent laws that expire in June of 2015.” [NYDN] — Claire Moses