Airbnb Intensifies Gentrification Across NYC Communities: Report

According to a ShareBetter coalition report, short-term rentals have removed as many as 13,500 housing units yearly, with 66 percent of revenue being derived from illegal listings.

new york skylineThe ShareBetter coalition has released a new report that analyzes Airbnb’s impact on the New York City housing market. In The High Cost of Short-Term Rentals in New York City, the authors focus on Airbnb rentals’ role in driving racialized gentrification in communities of color.

Authored by David Wachsmuth, leader of the Urban Politics and Governance research group at McGill University’s School of Urban Planning, the report used independent third-party data sets of Airbnb activity during the period from September 2014 to August 2017.

Fueling gentrification

Our research proves what many New Yorkers suspect: Airbnb is making housing harder to find and harder to afford in New York City,” said Wachsmuth. “Commercial operators have converted as many as 13,500 units of housing to short-term rentals, and the median new renter in the city is paying more per year as a result.” 

It finds as many as 13,500 housing units have been removed yearly by Airbnb, 66 percent of revenue is derived from illegal listings and almost 75 percent of listings in predominantly African-American neighborhoods are being controlled by white hosts. 

These Airbnb operators aren’t just removing housing stock, they’re also breaking the law; each month a majority of revenue is earned by illegal listings,” added Wachsmuth. “And perhaps most worryingly, Airbnb’s negative impacts are growing fastest in New York’s communities of color, where short-term rentals are making gentrification worse.”

According to the report, as long-term housing units are converted into short-term rentals for tourists, there exists a “clear correlation” between the growth of Airbnb, higher rental prices and increasing gentrification.

High-earning hosts

The report states the study revealed 75 percent, or $490 million, of total Airbnb revenue is comprised of entire-home/apartment listings.

Airbnb is a master magician,” said Jonathan Westin, executive director of New York Communities for Change. “They show you people making money while their real trick is making affordable housing disappear for low-income people of color.

These represent 51 percent of total listings, with 66 percent, or $435 million, of Airbnb’s total revenue coming from illegal listings in 2017. The report stated the top 10 percent of Airbnb hosts produced approximately half of all revenue. The top earning New York City Airbnb host brought in $700,000 in 2017 through seven listings and the top five New York City hosts each made at least $400,000, the report stated.

Airbnb refuses to admit that their illegal hotel racket is fueling gentrification and giving unscrupulous landlords the tools to displace tenants from their neighborhoods,” added Westin. “This report paints a clear picture that if you’re a tenant in Bushwick, Harlem or other gentrifying communities, Airbnb is part of the affordability problem, not a solution.” 

According to the report, the Airbnb-generated reduced housing supply has resulted in yearly rent hikes of $384 for average New York City renters seeking a new apartment. 

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons