In 2016, 15,000 Brooklyn Airbnb hosts welcomed over 585,000 guests from around the world, earning $146 million
Airbnb is both a blessing and a curse – depending on who you ask. Hotels and many regular residents see Airbnb as a threat, particularly in cities like NYC where lack of affordable housing is a major issue and tens of thousands make their livelihoods in the tourism industry. Yet, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President Andrew Hoan clearly sees the benefits of the home-sharing platform as he shared recently with Kings County Politics.
In 2015, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce started a partnership with Airbnb to attract more visitors, travelers and business folks to Brooklyn’s neighborhoods and small businesses. Since then, a phenomem Hoan describes as the “Airbnb business cycle” has emerged: The growth of regular Airbnb hosts becoming entrepreneurs, and the growth of local businesses who benefit from the influx of Airbnb guests who visit Brooklyn’s shops, bars and restaurants.
In 2016 alone, according to Hoan, 15,000 Broolkyn Airbnb hosts welcomed over 585,000 guests from around the world, earning $146 million. Also in more remote Brooklyn neighborhoods such as East New York, Airbnb claims to have generated $20 million in direct spending to businesses.
“Travelers come to Brooklyn to experience our world-class restaurants, vibrant neighborhoods and renowned cultural scenes,” Hoan wrote. “Many find Airbnb to be an affordable and convenient alternative when visiting family or when traveling for business. More tourists in Brooklyn mean more customers for local restaurants, stores, Mom and Pop shops, and retail corridors.”
Despite these potential benefits, there is a strong opposition; not only from the hotel industry, but also affordable-housing advocates and residents have expressed their concerns that Airbnb cuts into the housing stock and forces neighbors to deal with rowdy visitors. As a result the city has cracked down aggressively on landlords who have essentially converted apartments into hotel rooms through the online platform.
A recent bill, which was introduced by State Assemblyman Joe Lentol, could allow Brooklynites to share their homes while creating strict provisions to prevent unsafe environments and the removal of permanent housing from the market. The bill also would allow Airbnb to collect taxes which could generate an estimated $90 million for the city.
“Legislators should come together and form Business Innovation Committees to oversee the protections and safety of consumers, while at the same time, encouraging and fostering an innovation ecosystem. Additionally, they can consider ways to collect and remit taxes on these new industries,” suggested Hoan. “As for Airbnb, these taxes could, and should, be directed to support the development and maintenance of affordable housing.”