Housing crisis

Activists propose Airbnb ban to deter investors amid housing crisis

The town of Newburgh is one of many communities in the Hudson Valley ripe for revitalization – with inexpensive old homes ready to be bought and repaired.

Some efforts, however, take a modern twist — with what some call side effects.

“We are in crisis, says Mayor Torrance Harvey. “People are overpriced and kicked out.”

Harvey was one of many people at a popular Thursday press conference who are worried about outside investors buying homes and renting them out on short-term rental platforms like Airbnb and VRBO.

“This takes up a huge percentage of our housing stock which could be used for long-term housing, resulting in a severe housing shortage and aggravating the housing crisis,” said local activist Brahvan Ranga.

Proponents of short-term rentals, however, say they bring in tourism, revenue and hotel taxes.

Activists say home ownership and affordable housing are the trade-off and want to crack down on communities that are seeing huge growth in the market – like Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, Kingston and New Paltz.

“The problem isn’t a working-class or middle-class family or individual trying to rent a spare room to make extra money, it’s the investors,” Ranga said.

They want communities to adopt a short-term rental registry that requires landlords to provide proof they live in the property and want platforms to require users to follow local guidelines.

“Having affordability in the town of Newburgh is very important to us,” said Harvey.

Many communities have short-term rental laws, but critics say they’re difficult to enforce.

The group is calling on Albany lawmakers to step in with a state law that provides penalties for non-compliance.