Skip to content
CityLab
Justice

What Airbnb Did to New York City

Airbnb’s effects on the city’s housing market have been dramatic, a report suggests. And other cities could soon see the same pattern.
A brownstone in Brooklyn, where Airbnb growth has been particularly strong in recent years.
A brownstone in Brooklyn, where Airbnb growth has been particularly strong in recent years. Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

There are two kinds of horror stories about Airbnb. When the home-sharing platform first appeared, the initial cautionary tales tended to emphasize extreme guest (and occasionally host) misbehavior. But as the now decade-old service matured and the number of rental properties proliferated dramatically, a second genre emerged, one that focused on what the service was doing to the larger community: Airbnb was raising rents and taking housing off the rental market. It was supercharging gentrification while discriminating against guests and hosts of color. And as commercial operators took over, it was transforming from a way to help homeowners occasionally rent out an extra room into a purveyor of creepy, makeshift hotels.

Several studies have looked into these claims; some focused on just one issue at a time, or measured Airbnb-linked trends across wide swaths of the country. But a recent report by David Wachsmuth, a professor of Urban Planning at McGill University, zeroes in on New York City in an effort to answer the question of exactly what home sharing is doing to the city.