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Councilwoman Carlina Rivera speaks at a rally in support of the bill at City Hall on June 7, 2018. (NYC Council via Twitter)

Today, the Progressive Caucus formally announces its support for Progressive Caucus Council Member Carlina Rivera’s legislation (Introduction I.0981) which establishes new reporting requirements for short-term rental services. The legislation has been adopted into the Progressive Caucus’ legislative agenda, which includes a platform to promote the protection of affordable housing in New York City. At its core, this legislation is about just that; providing real accountability against the conversion of rent-stabilized units into market-rate housing, and the warehousing of much-needed housing at a time where our city is facing its worst housing crisis.

Tenants and community organizations have long been fighting against illegal rentals that disrupt communities, incentivize the harassment long-term tenants, and exacerbate New York City’s affordability crisis. This bill would give community advocates and city officials the data they need to protect tenants by keeping tabs on illegal short-term rentals that remove housing from the market and drive up neighborhood rents for the sake of profit.  Specifically, the data gathered from this reporting legislation will allow the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement, which oversees investigations into illegal short-term rentals, to pursue more effective oversight and enforcement action over the largely unmonitored but booming short-term rental market. This bill is a crucial step towards preventing bad actors from warehousing vacant apartments that are needed to meet the high and growing demand for housing in New York City.

“This is about protecting our existing affordable housing stock for the millions of New Yorkers who otherwise would not be able to live in our great City,” said Council Member Carlina Rivera, Member of the Progressive Caucus, primary sponsor of I. 981. “Short-term rental services and bad acting landlords continue to rake in millions of dollars in profits while harming working class families, particularly in my District. We cannot allow this to continue. The reporting required by this bill will ensure that individuals who legally use these service can continue to do so free from worry or harassment, while at the same time allowing for more effective prosecution of bad actors who are pushing out rent-regulated tenants in order to run illegal hotels. I commend my colleagues at the Progressive Caucus for supporting my bill and rallying with community organizations and residents to protect affordable housing.”

By advocating for this legislation along with its members, the Progressive Caucus continues its tradition of advocacy and support for fair and affordable housing that it has established over the last years. In the past, the Caucus has aided in the passage of twelve bills that protect tenants from construction harassment called Stand for Tenant Safety, as well as Intro. 1269, which promote community land trusts, and Intro. 385C, which protects tenants from asthma triggers in their homes.

We urge Council to pass this bill immediately so that the City can begin to hold bad actors accountable for using short-term rental services to illegally taking vacant apartments off the market and push out rent-stabilized tenants.

Members of the Progressive Caucus have overwhelmingly supported this bill:

“New York City is in the midst of an affordable housing crisis and we cannot standby as landlords illegally harbor rent-stabilized apartments to use as Airbnb rentals. There is no doubt that Airbnb has the potential to benefit homeowners, especially those that rely on the service to supplement their fixed incomes. Nonetheless, we know that landlords are profiting off of this shady tactic and Airbnb should be held accountable for their complicity. Council Member Rivera’s legislation will create much-needed oversight and prevent abuse pertaining to affordable housing,” said Council Member Diana Ayala, Co-Chair of the Council’s Progressive Caucus.

“Illegal short-term rentals take affordable housing away from the New Yorkers who need them,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, Co-Chair of the Council’s Progressive Caucus. “With 59,046 New Yorkers homeless and more than half of renters spending more than 30% of their income on rent, we cannot afford to allow apartments to be re-purposed as illegal hotels. Council Member Carlina Rivera’s bill will bring much-needed transparency to the short-term rentals market, so the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement can keep housing available to New Yorkers.”

“The bottom line is that everyone already living in New York City should be able to afford to,” said City Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Vice-Chair of the Progressive Caucus. “While Airbnb can help working families and individuals supplement their incomes, it is encouraging shady practices among landlords that is reducing our housing stock. Buildings that could offer apartments or rooms to struggling New Yorkers are instead being converted into illegal hotels. We can stop bad actors without hurting working families but only if we have transparency into who is who. That’s why this bill is beyond sensible, and I commend my colleague, Council Member Rivera, for introducing this legislation.”

“We are in a crisis when it comes to the loss of affordable housing in New York City. Short-term rentals minimize our shrinking housing stock and disrupt the quality of life in residential buildings. With this bill, home sharing companies will have to be transparent and disclose apartments in the City used for short-term housing so that we can have a better understanding of the magnitude of the issue. Thank you to Council Member Rivera for introducing legislation that sends a clear message and holds home-sharing companies accountable,” said Council Member Keith Powers, Vice-Chair of the Progressive Caucus.

“We have housing laws in this city and if AirBnB wants to be a part of the solution to our housing crisis, they are going to have to be active participants in helping the city enforce its laws,” said Council Member Donovan Richards, Member of the Progressive Caucus. “We must make every viable apartment available for long-term purposes and this legislation hammers that point home. I’d like to thank Council Member Rivera for this critical bill that will help ya get a clearer picture of our housing stock.”

“The affordable housing crisis in New York City does not discriminate. It is a complex problem that was not created overnight, and therefore will not be solved overnight. But, if one thing is clear, it’s that we cannot continue to have conversations about our city’s housing crisis without acknowledging the role that short-term rental services like Airbnb are playing in making the problem even worse. Commercial operators who convert housing into de facto hotel rooms for tourists are breaking the law. Plain and simple. Airbnb and companies like Airbnb should share their data with city officials so we can finally put a stop to predatory housing schemes that ultimate hurt New Yorkers in desperate need of housing. I commend Councilwoman Carlina Rivera for her leadership on this critical issue,” said Council Member Justin Brannan, Member of the Progressive Caucus.

“New York City is in the midst of an extreme housing crisis,” said Council Member Mark Levine, Member of the Progressive Caucus. “We simply can’t continue to bear the cost of losing affordable apartments to illegal hotels. Solving this problem requires greater transparency and consistent enforcement—which this bill gives us the tools to accomplish. I’m grateful for my colleague Carlina Rivera’s leadership on this issue and look forward to working with her to pursue the best possible policy for the benefit of all New Yorkers.”

“When landlords rent out residential units as hotel rooms, they take away a home meant for a New Yorker. Airbnb and other illegal hotel platforms have only exacerbated our affordable housing crisis, removing thousands of apartments from the rental market, giving unscrupulous landlords an incentive to harass tenants, and creating potential safety issues for other building residents. Thanks to Council Member Rivera’s common-sense legislation, the City will be far better equipped to verify whether building owners who are renting out units on a short-term basis are following the law, and we can begin to turn the tide against our devastating loss of affordable housing,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Member of the Progressive Caucus.

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