Op-ed: Short-term rentals provide economic benefits to local small businesses

Bushwick apartment buildings.
Photo by Cate Corcoran

Since 2016, I have lived in Bushwick in a two family townhome. It’s a neighborhood I am proud to be raising my child in, where we are surrounded by incredible neighbors, where there are generations of their families that live on the same block. It is home to artists, photographers, and other creatives. Like many New Yorkers, I wear a lot of hats: mother, daughter, wife, small business owner and an Airbnb host.

I’ve been hosting on Airbnb for about five years. It has allowed me to follow my passion while supporting my family. I find inspiration every day from my community and I love opening my home to new people so they can also experience the wonders of Brooklyn. My husband and I have always loved traveling because it allows us to meet new people, shop at small businesses and discover different cultures; our Airbnb allows us to do just that from home. We use the extra money from Airbnb to pay our bills. With inflation making the cost of everything higher, short-term renting has been a godsend.

A highlight of hosting has been being able to provide a great experience for families. As a mother, I know how hard it can be when traveling with children. At our house, we have an extra stroller for guests to use as well as a crib and high chair. In addition to young families, we also get a lot of parents who come to visit their adult children. A lot of young people move to Bushwick, Ridgewood and Williamsburg after graduating college and our home allows their families to visit them conveniently. Since many young people live with roommates, parents look for other accommodations while visiting. There aren’t many hotels in our neighborhood so Airbnbs are ideal for staying close by. A lot of these families host dinners at our home, using our kitchen and dining room; this is something a hotel cannot offer.

Similarly, we’re more pet friendly than most accommodations. We have two dogs and I would never want anyone to be without their pets when going on a vacation. I’ve traveled with my animals in the past and hotels either do not allow pets, our dogs have to be in a crate or we get calls because our dogs were barking. Airbnb allows pet owners to stay at places that treat animals as they should be treated, like members of the family. At my house, we always have dog food and treats to ensure they have a comfortable and happy stay. Not to mention, we have a backyard too where dogs can roam outdoors and play with their families. 

Airbnb hosts like myself offer an essential service to the city. There aren’t a lot of hotels outside of Manhattan and we bring tourists into communities, who visit our bodegas, coffee shops, local lounges, bars and grocery stores. We also supply a list to guests of restaurants we love that are owned by local entrepreneurs and young chefs, who really appreciate the extra business. For our guests, we provide coffee from Brooklyn Roasting Company and tea from Bushwick Tea, as well as special treats like candy from Eugene’s and ice cream from Ample Hills Creamery. Our home also features local artists’ work, including Valerie Star. You see, being on Airbnb doesn’t just pay our bills, it helps local businesses pay theirs. It’s disappointing that our local government doesn’t see the benefits Airbnb has for everyday New Yorkers like myself as well as the local economy. 

Our elected officials recently passed a bill that would push myself and most hosts off the platform. This means that there will be less accommodations for New York City’s visitors and less money coming in for hosts like myself and the local shops and restaurant owners who benefit from the extra tourism. I cannot understand why they would pass a law that punishes responsible homeowners.

If I were no longer able to rent my home on Airbnb, I would not open it up to longer-term renting. It’s the flexibility that has kept me as a host. I am a social media and experiential event producer for brands ranging from the food and beverage industry to beauty and wellness. When I’m not using the separate entrance two bedroom apartment for guests, I turn it into an additional workspace that I can use for content photo and video shoots for my social media business. If it is not rented out, I sometimes use it for playdates for my child to run around and play in our backyard. On occasion, I also have family in town who stay in this apartment. A longer-term renter would simply not fit into our family’s lifestyle nor my business needs. I know there are a lot of folks like me who have similar situations; we all stand to lose out on a significant source of income and the city will not get the housing they continue to preach would become available without Airbnb. 

Elected officials, if you are reading this, please think about all the New Yorkers that have lived here all their lives, like myself, and might need to move out of New York now. During last week’s hearing on this issue, you heard this case over and over again how others who have one property on Airbnb in NYC might not be able to host and how so many people will need to move from the city they call home. Focus on the bad actors causing the problems and really taking the affordable housing away instead of going after those hosts that have one NYC unit they run responsibly and that they rely on to welcome guests who feel Airbnb is a better place for them to stay while visiting New York.

Claudine Krause is Brooklyn homeowner and a marketing and public relations professional.

Editor’s note: This op-ed was submitted freely to Brooklyn Paper by a Brooklyn resident. We welcome op-ed submissions 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We want to hear from you! If you’re interested in sharing your opinion with Brooklyn Paper (to be published online and potentially in print), please submit op-eds to our digital editor [email protected].

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