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My name is Maritza Silva-Farrell and I am the Coordinator of Real Affordability for All (RAFA) – the largest affordable housing coalition in the city, comprised of more than 50 housing organizations.

The affordable housing crisis is reaching extreme heights, and as advocates for the creation and preservation of affordable housing, we have fought against numerous threats on behalf of tenants across the city. Now, we are facing a new threat—Airbnb and illegal hotel companies who are breaking the law and robbing NYC of scarce affordable housing in order to turn a massive profit.

With the arrival of Airbnb, the housing problem has become far worse, affecting tens of thousands of residents, rent-regulated apartments, de-regulated rental housing units, and co-ops and condos in neighborhoods throughout New York City.

The effects of Airbnb on affordable housing are felt most seriously in the neighborhoods where the issue is most critical. The high concentration of users of Airbnb are where affordable housing is scarce and rents are most expensive (such as Midtown, Upper West Side and Greenwich Village), or where rent increases are forcing out long time residents (such as Bed Stuy, Harlem and Williamsburg).

Airbnb exacerbates New York’s housing crisis by incentivizing landlords and tenants to take units off the market, so they can make more money off them as short-term rentals. Airbnb and similar online platforms are encouraging them to violate New York State law.

According to the New York State Attorney General’s Office, approximately two-thirds of New York City Airbnb units are being rented illegally.

The service has created a dangerous underground market, unregulated by law and inconsiderate of detrimental effects to the residents of our city, like decreased public safety and diminishing affordable housing stock.

Airbnb is not helping our families’ economy by helping them pay their rent. To the contrary, the rent wouldn’t be so high if illegal hotels weren’t taking thousands of apartments off the market.

Mayor de Blasio has made it a priority to reverse the housing crisis by expanding New York City’s affordable housing stock with an additional 200,000 units over the next 10 years, but that reversal won’t be effective if the city does not put a stop to Airbnb and illegal hotels.

Thank you,

Maritza Silva- Farrell