Does Airbnb Combat Gentrification?
Courtesy of Airbnb

The home sharing economy in New York City might be threatened by a new bill.

On June 17th New York State Legislature passed a bill that would punish hosts for short-term listings on sites like Airbnb. Hosts could face fines as high as $1,000 for the first violation, $5,000 for the second violation and $7,500 for the third when listing their entire home or apartment for a period less than thirty days, which is prohibited by New York’s short term rental laws.

For many New Yorkers, Airbnb has provided substantial income and has become an aid in managing staggering rent increases. Many – like Richelle and Pela in Bed-Stuy, and Eric in South Bronx – rely on this income to stay in their home.

“After the financial crisis in 2008,” says Eric, “several people I know had to leave the neighborhood, because they could no longer afford to live in the neighborhood. It is a Herculean effort to pay one’s mortgage, to pay one’s rent and any little bit you can get to help you make that payment every month is a blessing.”

“Home sharing is good for our communities. Home sharing is good for our neighbors and ourselves and we definitley want to continue that,” Eric adds.

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Richelle’s home has been in her family for three generations. “The rents [in New York] are now astronomical,” says Richelle. “The reason we started the home share is because we needed another income. We have three children so we rely on our home sharing.”

“A lot of people are salvaging their homes by doing this. People work everyday, but it doesn’t seem to be enough financially,” Richelle notes.

Richelle believes that the bill would penalize people who are utilizing what they have to survive. People who rely on their home sharing income could face losing their homes and being bought out of their neighborhood and community. Richelle and Eric’s stories, which are posted on Airbnb Action Facebook page, share a different narrative to #AirbnbWhileBlack.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will make the final decision in January regarding the bill.


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