Airbnb Under Fire From New 'Share Better' Campaign

Airbnb Under Fire From New 'Share Better' Campaign

The battle over the so-called sharing economy is heating up as New Yorkers question the impact of home-sharing sites like Airbnb.

A campaign called "Share Better," launched Friday by a coalition of elected officials, housing activists and hotel owners, makes the case that Airbnb listings are "illegal hotels" that are "robbing NYC of affordable housing and violating state law."

The campaign will focus on advertising and public education, aiming to serve as a counterweight to Airbnb's extensive ad campaign of recent months, which is partly aimed at bending New York state law in a direction more friendly to the company's business.

The Share Better group, for its part, is using Airbnb horror stories and policy arguments alike to turn public opinion against the popular site.

"Far from being a harmless service where New York City residents can share their homes with guests to the City, Airbnb enables New York City tenants to break the law and potentially violate their leases, it exacerbates the affordable housing crisis in our neighborhoods, and it poses serious public safety concerns for Airbnb guests, hosts and their neighbors," reads a statement on the organization's website.

The Share Better coalition says it has $3 million to spend on its ad campaign. It estimates that Airbnb has spent $25 million on awareness efforts of its own.

Airbnb, meanwhile, is not sitting idly by. The company argues that the Share Better campaign is really just a veiled attempt by the hotel industry to ward off its major competitor.

"Some misinformed hotels are willing to spend millions of dollars because they don't think regular New Yorkers should be able to share the home in which they live," wrote Max Pomeranc, public policy manager at Airbnb, in a Friday blog post responding to the launch of the campaign.

Pomeranc wrote that the "Airbnb community will generate an estimated $768 million in economic activity in New York in 2014 and support 6,600 jobs." He added that earlier this year, Airbnb removed many users who were "abusing our site" by offering large numbers of poorly rated listings.

However, representatives of Share Better maintain that sites like Airbnb contribute to skyrocketing rents and aggravate the city's affordable housing crisis.

"With the rise of illegal hotels and the influence of corporations like AirBNB, affordable housing in our City is in danger," said New York City public advocate Letitia James in a statement. "A housing model that threatens, instead of supporting affordable housing cannot and will not work for me, or this City."

Airbnb declined to comment to The Huffington Post on the Share Better campaign.

Here's a video Share Better released with its launch:

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