With its fight against the New York Attorney General simmering, a new campaign has been launched to fight Airbnb. is a group of community activists, organizations, elected officials, and others who went public today with an assault on the apartment-sharing service, which they believe is more of a disservice to the community.
Share Better sums up a variety of grievances on their website: “Airbnb enables New York City tenants to break the law and potentially violate their leases, it exacerbates the affordable housing crisis in our neighborhoods, and it poses serious public safety concerns for Airbnb guests, hosts and their neighbors.”
Though the acerbic charges might read a little bit over the top, especially given our conversation last year with Airbnb hosts, a number of important figures are named as members of the coalition including City Council Members Rosie Mendez, Margaret Chin, and Antonio Reynoso; New York City’s Public Advocate, Letitia James; and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, among others. Affordable housing advocates like Williamsburg-based Los Sures, Make the Road (a Bushwick-based activist group), and East Village-based GOLES, have also joined the coalition. Believe us,goes on and on.
Given all the powerful people backing the charges, this might be the most decisive move against Airbnb yet. It looks like the coalition is serious about reaching Millennials (lol), with aaccount and a YouTube channel to boot. It even repurposed negative Airbnb reviews into a parody of Airbnb’s “Views” ad. You know how those Millennials love parody videos! Almost as much as they love modernist birdhouse videos.
The complaints featured in the YouTube vid range from the mundane (a sleepy princess named Brandi was “kept up at night by barking dogs”) to the horrific (“BED BUGS infestation! -Michelle & Eric”). But at least one of the coalition’s grievances is clear: Airbnb isn’t always an amazing experience for guests, and some delinquent hosts fall through the cracks.
Given the coalition’s consistent referencing of “illegal hotels” and the emphasis on guests’ experiences, the campaign does stink ever so slightly of hotel industry interests. The Wall Street Journal’s tech blog posted an article today connecting the New York Hotel Association with the campaign as a fundraiser for the coalition’s advertising budget.
Airbnb also posted a response today. “Some in the hotel industry will do everything they can to stop the sharing economy, but we look forward to working with leaders in New York on sensible legislation that cracks down on illegal hotels and ensures regular New Yorkers can share the home in which they live.”
Some of the coalition’s grievances regarding guest experiences (which, keep in mind, are confirmed) are pretty lame: are we really to believe that dogs barking late into the night should be the concern of elected officials? However the coalition does put forth an interesting argument related to the affordable housing crisis.
Share Better’s press release quotes Jonathan Westin, Executive Director of New York Communities for Change: “Airbnb[‘s] most popular neighborhoods happen to be Harlem, Astoria, and Bed-Stuy. These neighborhoods are 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. Airbnb is depleting the stock of available affordable housing and making it harder for working families to find a home they can afford.”
It remains to be seen whether their claims can be backed up by solid evidence, but the Share Better Coalition is definitely a campaign to be watched.