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Airbnb, Stringer spar over numbers in ʻflawedʼ impact report

New York City’s Comptroller Scott M. Stringer released a report that claims residents pay $616 million in additional rent in 2016 due to the growth of Airbnb listings. But Airbnb quickly refuted the report, calling it “deeply flawed” and said the data was improperly obtained.

Stringer’s “Impact of Airbnb on NYC Rents” report, which analyzes data from 2009 to 2016, points out that Airbnb listings, especially in neighborhoods with a heavy concentration of listings, exacerbates the city’s affordability challenges.

“For years, New Yorkers have felt the burden of rents that go nowhere but up, and Airbnb is one reason why. From Bushwick to Chinatown and in so many neighborhoods in-between, affordable apartments that should be available to rent never hit the market, because they are making a profit for Airbnb,” Stringer said.

“Airbnb has grown exponentially at the expense of New Yorkers who face rising rents and the risk of being pushed out of communities they helped build. If we’re going to preserve the character of our neighborhoods and expand our middle class, we have to put people before profits. It’s that simple.”

New Yorkers have been squeezed by rapidly rising rents, which rose 25 percent on average citywide between 2009 and 2016, or $279 per month, according to Stringer’s report. The report added that rents rose most rapidly in Brooklyn, by 35 percent or $340 per month, followed by Queens by 22 percent or $242 per month. Stringer’s report also said that the Bronx saw a rent increase of 21 percent or $171 per month and Manhattan experience a 19 percent growth or $276 per month. Staten Island experienced a 14 percent increase or $129 per month, according to the report.

Stringer’s report puts these rent increase statistics side by side to the number of Airbnb listings skyrocketing from 1,000 in 2010 to over 43,000 in 2015.

But Airbnb claimed that the report was factually wrong and flawed. Chris Lehane, Airbnb’s head of global policy, penned a letter to Stringer, saying the report used data from AirDNA, an independent company that analyzes Airbnb data, that was “improperly obtained” and “incorrectly interpreted.”
In a statement released by AirDNA’s CEO Scott Shatford, the company fully supported Airbnb in condemning Stringer’s report.

“The Comptroller is once again using Airbnb as a scapegoat for a housing affordability crisis that has been growing for decades,” Shatford said.

“In New York City, just over 5,300 Entire Homes were rented on Airbnb for six months or more in the past year, representing 0.2 percent of the total housing supply – it is impossible for Airbnb to have a material impact on rental prices.”

Airbnb also said it has also filed a Freedom of Information Law request for the Comptroller’s office on anything related to the development of their “factually wrong report.”

“The very foundation of the report is deeply flawed: assuming that all Airbnb Hosts are renting their homes 365 nights a year is akin to conducting a traffic study that assumes all cars in New York are on the road all day, every day,” Chris Lehane, Airbnb’s head of global policy, said in a statement.

“This report was paid for with taxpayer dollars and the public has the right to know about who participated in this snow job.”

Stringer fired back in response to both of the company’s claims and said Airbnb should release the raw data to resolve the issue.

“If Airbnb wants to have a real conversation about its impact on New York City, it should start by releasing raw data on all its listings – rather than fighting the City tooth and nail in court to hide its data, then hypocritically questioning the methodology of every study it doesn’t like,” Stringer said.

“It’s time for Airbnb to come clean and share all its data on New York City listings and stop playing the victim, when really the only victims to date have been the millions of New Yorkers who today are paying higher rents because of Airbnb’s business practices.”

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