New “Share Better” Coalition Announced

NEW COALITION OF ELECTED OFFICIALS HOUSING GROUPS AND COMMUNITY ACTIVISTS, LAUNCH THE SHARE BETTER CAMPAIGN TO FIGHT ILLEGAL HOTELS

 

Over 100 Affordable Housing Advocates, Community Groups, Elected Officials & Others Join Forces To Expose The Impact Of Illegal Hotels In New York City
 
Share Better Coalition To Expose Airbnb & Other Illegal Hotel Companies Robbing NYC of Affordable Housing And Violating State Law
 
Campaign Will Include Organizing, Paid And Digital Media, Public Education, And Potential Legislative Action To Counter Massive Airbnb Spending


New York – Today, at a press conference at City Hall, the #ShareBetter coalition representing over 100 elected officials, housing groups, and community activists launched a new campaign to combat the rampant threat of Airbnb and other illegal hotel operations in New York City. Committed to expanding affordable housing and maintaining safe living conditions in our neighborhoods, #ShareBetter will leverage paid media, grassroots organizing, public education, and potential legislative action to counter massive Airbnb spending, and prevent the illegal hotel industry from continuing to violate state law and eliminate scarce affordable housing.

Illegal hotels are using third party operators like Airbnb to unlawfully convert residential units into more lucrative short-term rentals, exacerbating New York’s housing crisis by depleting an already scare supply of affordable housing. Airbnb is by far the most egregious enabler of illegal hotels that have plagued New York City for more than a decade, and is currently under investigation by the state Attorney General for violating the law.

According to Connotate, a data extraction company that examined Airbnb’s website, Airbnb has a total of 19,522 New York City listings on their site. A study of data from Airbnb’s own website showed that nearly two-thirds (64%) of the apartments listed on Airbnb as of January 2014 covered an entire apartment and were being offered in violation of state law. In addition, more than 200 of the offerings came from just five hosts, and just 12% of hosts actually control 30% of all New York City listings. The illegal hotel problem continues to grow, as Airbnb is only one of many illegal hotel operators preying on New York City’s limited supply of affordable housing.


Statements By ShareBetter Supporters


Jaron Benjamin, Executive Director, Met Council on Housing said:
“The illegal hotel industry is a direct threat to what’s left of our city’s affordable housing by removing protections that keep apartment costs low – their business model exploits loopholes that speed up gentrification. Elected officials and housing advocates understand this, and have come together to protect our communities.”

Jonathan Westin, Executive Director, New York Communities for Change said:
“Airbnb most popular neighborhoods happen to be Harlem, Astoria and Bed-Stuy. These neighborhoods are very different from one another but have one thing in common. In all, we have seen double-digit rent increases that are forcing out long-time residents,” said Jonathan Westin, Executive Director of New York Communities for Change. “Airbnb is depleting the stock of available affordable housing and making it harder for working families a home they can afford.”

New York City Public Advocate Letitia James said:
“A shared economy can only work when we all share fairly. With the rise of illegal hotels and the influence of corporations like AirBNB, affordable housing in our City is in danger.  A housing model that threatens, instead of supporting affordable housing cannot and will not work for me, or this City.”

Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer said:
“New York’s #1 problem is affordable housing—everyone knows it. But the boom in tourism to New York City, the rise of websites like AirBnB and Craigslist, and landlords and building owners have combined and made the affordable housing crisis worse. These owners are diverting units which could be permanent homes for New Yorkers into temporary and illegal lodging for tourists.”

State Senator Liz Krueger said:
“More affordable, available housing is New York City’s greatest need, and illegal hotels exacerbate the crisis. Some companies — Airbnb front and center among them — are ignoring our laws at the same time as they spend millions of dollars arguing that we need to change or scrap them, endangering residents and New York City’s housing stock by encouraging illegal short-term rentals of whole apartments. The broad coalition you see here today is proof positive that here in New York and across the country, elected officials, tenants, community groups, and advocates of many stripes are coming together and will fight back.”

State Senator Brad Hoylman said:
“We cannot sit by while illegal hotel operators and unscrupulous landlords further exacerbate New York City’s housing crisis by taking units off the market to rent to travelers, while NYC residents are priced out of thee neighborhoods they call home. Illegal hotels place residents and visitors at risk and must be stopped.”

State Senator Bill Perkins said:
“I am proud to stand with a diverse and impressive coalition that is not only against illegal hotels butexpressly for preserving and growing affordable housing throughout New York City.  The consciously illegal actions of large corporate interests seeking to capitalize and commercialize the residential housing market contravenes multiple provisions of state law, incentivizes tenant harassment, eviction and impermissible rent destabilization, substantially contracts our existing stock of affordable housing, endlessly spikes the crushing rent burden on our neighbors and further exacerbates the sweeping forces of gentrification. Fortunately, our coalition will be speaking truth to power on this essential issue and working to strengthen and enhance the Illegal Hotel Law which is a cornerstone component of our shared affordable housing vision.”

State Senator Adriano Espaillat said:
“We can’t tolerate the growing misuse of affordable housing Airbnb continues to encourage.Affordable housing has always been a scarce resource in New York City, but its supply is steadily dwindling. Allowing the theft of this public resource, and the blatant harassment of neighboring tenants to continue will have a profoundly damaging impact on our city and make it even harder for low-income families to scrape by.”

Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, the Assembly sponsor of the illegal hotel law, said:
“We see cheery ads with nice people making extra money renting out a spare room and having brunch with their guests. That’s legal if the landlord allows it. But many Airbnb’s ‘hosts’ rent out whole apartments to one group of tourists after another, and are profiting while making their neighbor’s life a nightmare and putting residents and tourists in danger. That’s illegal, and it should be.”

Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal said:
“We stand at a crisis of epic proportions, where the number of units of affordable housing is dwindling faster than we can replace them and hardworking families cannot afford to live in the City they call home. Airbnb and its ilk are operating illegally in New York City, flagrantly violating the very laws that we have in place to protect affordable housing and are contributing to the affordability crisis that we are working so hard to address.  In a true ‘sharing economy,’ everyone, including Airbnb, must share in the responsibility of building diverse, livable and vibrant communities, not selfishly breaking them down in order to build their profits.”
Assembly Member Deborah J. Glick said:
“Protecting affordable housing is the key to preserving the neighborhoods that have made this city great. Illegal short-term sublets, or illegal hotels, pose a major threat to our affordable housing stock and to the quality of life of all New Yorkers. I’m proud to join with the coalition in continuing this essential fight for the future of our city.”

Assembly Member Walter Mosley said:
“I stand today with my fellow elected officials to say that our communities are tired of being robbed of affordable housing units through illegal conversion of housing stock into vacation rental units which are marked on internet sites such as Airbnb. The neighborhoods of Crown Heights, which I represent, has one of the highest density of rent stabilized units in the city and these units options are taken away from hardworking New Yorker’s who are in desperate need of affordable housing to live and raise their families. Furthermore, the money that Airbnb is making off of these illegal transactions will be filtered into their lobbying campaign in Albany as the state legislators return to session next January to begin debate on the rent regulation laws that will expire in June of 2015. They will attempt to denigrate and weaken tenant protection and rent stabilization laws which they consider hindrances to their day to day operations – ignoring the plight of the common New Yorker. I pledge to work with my colleagues in the State Assembly and State Senate and to fight for legislation that will strength and protect tenant’s rights to affordable housing”

Council Member Brad Lander said:
“New York City’s clear and long-standing rules on subletting help to preserve affordable housing, protect neighbors, and help insure community quality-of-life. I strongly oppose Airbnb’s illegal efforts to undermine those rules.”

Council Member Dan Garodnick said:
“Illegal hotels are a threat not just to the tourists who may not know what they are getting, but also to New Yorkers who expect to be safe and secure in their homes,” said Council Member Dan Garodnick. “This has far reaching implications for affordable housing in New York City, and we are committed to cracking down on the practice.”

Council Member Corey Johnson said:
“Landlords who are illegally warehousing residential apartments and using them as illegal hotels must be held accountable. Greedy landlords empty their buildings, convert them into unregulated hotels and diminish the affordable housing stock in New York City. This is about protecting New Yorkers from unscrupulous landlords and ensuring that tenants and residential communities are protected.”

Council Member Helen Rosenthal said:
“Airbnb is systematically taking away our affordable housing stock. Their business model gives an incentive to landlords of SRO and rent-regulated apartments to empty out their units and rent them at much higher rates via Airbnb. New York City and New York State need to do everything in their power to create more affordable housing—Airbnb takes us in the wrong direction.”

Council Member Rory Lancman said:
“Airbnb shrinks our stock of affordable housing and turns quiet buildings and neighborhoods into high-traffic, way stations for transients just passing through. This isn’t what we want in our residential communities.”

Council Member Mark Levine said:
“With rents rapidly rising but wages remaining stagnant, sharing a spare bedroom can help you earn a little extra money to make ends meet.  In reality it has also created a “sublet economy” that’s seriously hurting tenants and bleeding units from our already scarce affordable housing stock. Make no mistake: AirBnB and other companies aren’t waging an aggressive and misleading PR campaign to help the tenant with the spare room. They’re fighting for the landlords who have turned empty apartments — previously occupied by permanent tenants — into illegal hotels. That’s where these corporations make their huge profits. It’s high time that we fought back and enforced the laws they are breaking. We must hold them accountable for encouraging illegal activity, creating a nuisance, and owing millions in unpaid hotel tax dollars.”

Council Member Ben Kallos said:
“Thousands of AirBnB rooms are available not just for one weekend but for months on end, including in our city’s affordable housing. That is not the ‘sharing economy’: It’s making ten times market rate on our desperately-needed housing stock. Housing units for low- and middle-income New Yorkers must go to New Yorkers, not to tourists. I call on AirBnB and similar sites to promote innovation while following the law and respecting New York City’s affordable housing.”

Marti Weithman, Director, Goddard Riverside’s SRO Law Project said:

“Illegal hotels have plagued SRO buildings for over a decade, hastening the loss of this already depleted affordable housing stock and creating public nuisances and safety hazards for New Yorkers and unsuspecting tourists. With the arrival of Airbnb and other illegal hotel online operators, SRO owners are even more incentivized to harass tenants out of their homes for higher profits.”

Sarah Desmond, Executive Director, Housing Conservation Coordinators said:
“NYC has lost thousands of units to illegal hotel use.  And now Airbnb is raising the stakes, seeking to gut rent regulations in an attempt to legalize its operations.  New Yorkers must say no.  The cost is just too high. Illegal hotel use presents an enormous affordable housing issue, as tenants are steadily pushed out of their homes in favor of the more lucrative short-term rentals.”

Tom Cayler. Hell’s Kitchen tenant, Member of the West Side Neighborhood Alliance said:
“My residential lease says that I have the right to “Quiet Enjoy”, yet I never know who is going to be in the building where I have lived with my family for 35 years. I did not sign a residential lease that says, “And by the way this is also a tourist hotel.”  And Airbnb hosts do not have the right to change my lease!”

Adriene Holder, Attorney, The Legal Aid Society’s Civil Practice said:
“In New York City, affordable housing is an extremely scarce resource.  We strongly support the illegal hotel law which prevents owners from harassing long term tenants out of their homes with the goal of turning apartment buildings into hotels.”

Michael Grinthal, Supervising Attorney at MFY Legal Services said:
“MFY represents thousands of low-income tenants in New York City each year.  AirBnB doesn’t help our clients – they help them get evicted.  While landlords and AirBnB profit from turning affordable housing into hotel rooms for tourists, our clients are forced out of the city because they can’t find a place they can afford to live.”

Brandon Kielbasa, Lead Organizer, Cooper Square Committee said:
“Here in NYC, America’s tightest rental market, working-class New Yorkers already live with the real estate industry aggressively bearing down them to leave their rent regulated apartments. These tenants don’t need the business of these illegal hotels to provide any additional inspiration to those who seek to drive them out of their homes. Longtime tenants of the LES have consistently felt displacement pressure and had other problems from the emergence of illegal hotels in this neighborhood. It’s been our experience from working with tenants in here that illegal hotels are only making the housing problems that working-class New Yorkers face worse.”

Elected Officials Supporting The ShareBetter Coalition:
NYC Public Advocate Letitia James; Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer; U.S. Rep Jerrold Nadler; State Senators Liz Krueger, Brad Hoylman, Adriano Espaillat, Bill Perkins, Jose Peralta, Jose Serrano, and Gustavo Rivera; Assembly Members Richard Gottfried, Deborah Glick, Linda Rosenthal, Brian Kavanagh, Walter Mosley, Robert Rodriguez; and NYC Council Members Helen Rosenthal, Corey Johnson, Mark Levine, Dan Garodnick, Ben Kallos, Rosie Mendez, Margaret Chin, Brad Lander, Carlos Menchaca, Antonio Reynoso, Mark Weprin, Rory Lancman, Jimmy Van Bramer, and Ritchie Torres.

Housing & Community Groups Supporting the ShareBetter Coalition:
Met Council on Housing; Real Rent Reform; NYCC; Tenants PAC; Housing Conservation Coordinators; Goddard Riverside SRO Law Project; West Side Neighborhood Alliance; Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development; Los Sures; Central Park Gardens Tenants’ Association; Community Free Democrats; West 80s Neighborhood Association; West 75th Street Block Association; The West 47th/48th Streets Block Association; Independence House Tenant Association; Tenants Alliance of Glenn Gardens; Keep Turin House Affordable Coalition; Columbus Manor Tenant Association; Kips Bay Neighborhood Association; MFY Legal Services; Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A; Legal Aid Society; Asian Americans for Equality; AIDS Center of Queens County; Clinton Housing Development Company; Cooper Square Committee; Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Association; St. Nick’s Alliance; Make the Road New York; LEAP; Real Affordability for All; CAMBA; Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation; Urban Justice Center; 15-19 West 55th St. Tenant’s Association; New York Lawyers for the Public Interest; RENA; GOLES; Legal Services Staff Association (UAW 2320); and Housing Court Answers

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