Brooklyn Boro

Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights Airbnb hosts Launch Club to call for better home sharing laws

September 6, 2016 By Scott Enman Brooklyn Daily Eagle
An airbnb host speaks at the Aug. 29 meeting at Bedford Hall in Bed-Stuy. Photo courtesy of Airbnb
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On Aug. 29, several Airbnb hosts from Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights came together to launch the Bed-Stuy/Crown Heights Host Club, which plans to organize community members and local small businesses in favor of sensible home sharing laws.

The meeting also served as a forum for hosts to brainstorm ways of putting pressure on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to not sign an anti-Airbnb bill, which, if passed, would fine hosts who advertise their homes on Airbnb as much as $7,500.

Several Airbnb hosts and members of the community spoke at the meeting, which took place at Bedford Hall in Bed-Stuy.

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The speakers included Richelle Burnett, an Airbnb host from Bed-Stuy and president of the newly formed club; Michael Lambert, head of the Bed-Stuy Gateway Business Improvement District (BID); Dourdy Jourdain, head of the Bed-Stuy YMCA; and Tremaine Wright, a local state Assembly candidate.

The club is the third host club organization to launch this year in Brooklyn. There are currently 40,000 Airbnb hosts in the city and roughly 1,000 hosts in Bed-Stuy.

“Airbnb is a lifeline for thousands of New Yorkers who use the platform to help make ends meet,” Burnett told the Brooklyn Eagle. “I’m proud to join other hosts and neighbors to let lawmakers know that penalizing those who share their homes on Airbnb is a step in the wrong direction for New York.

“We’re going to be organizing across the state because our voices need to be heard — Airbnb is essential for Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights residents and businesses, and it’s essential for New York,” she continued.

“Airbnb is not a hotel,” Bed-Stuy Airbnb host Michelle Yates told the Eagle. “We provide a home away from home. It is so different from the hotel experience. We bring more finances into the community. We help build the small businesses financially and we keep the money in Bed-Stuy and in Brooklyn.

“We’ve never had tourism in Brooklyn and now we do, so we like to keep it local and we want to build our community,” she added.

In addition to providing hosts with extra income, Airbnb brings money into the community. Lambert explained to the Eagle why it’s imperative to have hosts in his neighborhood.  

“In Bed-Stuy it’s more about what tourists bring to the neighborhood,” he said. “As the custodian of the BID, one of my jobs is to make sure that folks who are in the area patronize the businesses and also know those businesses are there.

“So having hosts locations in Bed-Stuy provides you with a great audience to market different locations within your commercial corridor so people can patronize the local establishments,” Lambert continued. “When dollars are spent in the neighborhood, they tend to recirculate three times as much as when they’re being spent outside of the neighborhood.”

And with the help of the Bed-Stuy Gateway BID, local businesses, along with Airbnb hosts, are working to create rewards programs and discounts for guests staying in hosts’ homes.  

A representative of The New York Hotel Trades Council, an organization that supports the anti-Airbnb bill, did not provide a comment by press time.

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