Op-Ed: Brooklyn Is Thriving Alongside Airbnb

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In 2015, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce partnered with Airbnb to help visitors discover the off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods and small businesses in our borough. Now, two years later, we are proud to witness a new phenomenon shape the Brooklyn business community for the better. As Airbnb hosts become entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs grow their businesses by having Airbnb guests come to their shops, bars and restaurants it has emerged as (what we call) the “Airbnb business cycle.” As the leading voice for Brooklyn businesses, we feel it is a boon to the entire borough.

Andrew Hoan

Last year, 15,000 Airbnb hosts in Brooklyn welcomed over 585,000 guests from around the world. Together, hosts earned $146 million — money that goes directly into our community.

In East New York alone, Airbnb drove $20 million in direct spending to businesses and generated $25 million in economic activity.  

Travelers come to Brooklyn to experience our world-class restaurants, vibrant neighborhoods, and renowned cultural scenes. Many find Airbnb to be an affordable and convenient alternative when visiting family or when traveling for business.

At the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, we have long recognized that the opportunities Airbnb and home sharing create for Brooklynites ultimately leads to broader economic growth.  Simply put — more tourists in Brooklyn mean more customers for our local restaurants, stores, Mom and Pop shops and retail corridors.

Assemblyman Joe Lentol

New York State Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D- Greenpoint) clearly also recognizes that the “Airbnb business cycle” can be an economic lifeline for local families and small businesses, as he introduced a comprehensive bill (A7250) last month that establishes sensible home sharing regulations in New York City. The bill would allow Brooklynites to share their homes while creating strict provisions that prevent unsafe environments and the removal of permanent housing from the market. Furthermore, by allowing Airbnb to collect and remit taxes from its host community, it could bring an estimated $90 million to State and City coffers.

Home sharing and the “Airbnb business cycle” is an undeniable benefit to our communities – from Bushwick to Brighton Beach. And, it’s an undeniable fact that Airbnb is at the peak of innovation, as the world over reimagines the travel experience.

If the City and State want to grow and prosper economically, they need to evolve with an evolving business environment. 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, all the while keeping business fair and competitive. As for Airbnb, these taxes could, and should, be directed to support the development of and maintenance of affordable housing.

Every day we hear more stories about how home sharing supports economic growth and how Airbnb can create a ripple effect felt around the world. Now it’s time to look to Albany to protect the promise of the home sharing economy by passing the Lentol bill.  

–Andrew Hoan is the President and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.