Airbnb rental turns out to be public housing apartment

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Airbnb rental turns out to be public housing apartment

NEW YORK — Boston resident Rachel Valerio thought her $90-a-night Airbnb apartment in Manhattan was a good deal until she realized she had booked an apartment in a New York City Housing Authority complex.

The apartment was reportedly highly rated on Airbnb in Chelsea.

Valerio told the Times that it smelled like gas and there was a roach trap next to the bed.

On the plus side, the apartment in the Housing Authority’s Fulton Houses was next door to the High Line and Chelsea Market.

Valerio saw the letters N-Y-C-H-A in the lobby.  Not knowing what they stood for, she did an internet search and was shocked to discover that they stood for the maligned public housing agency.

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Subletting a government-subsidized apartment is illegal but it does occasionally happen.

In a statement to FOX 5 News, NYCHA said:  “Ilegal subletting of NYCHA apartments on Airbnb is prohibited by HUD regulations and by our lease agreements. We are investigating the matter.”

Airbnb refunded Valerio’s money.

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Josh Meltzer, Head of Northeast Policy for Airbnb told FOX 5 News in a statement:  “”We have supported regulations across the country — including in San Francisco, Los Angeles and elsewhere — that prohibit short-term rentals in public housing. Right here in New York, for the past three years, we have backed a bill proposed in Albany that would go even farther, barring short-term rentals in all affordable housing. Simply put, there is no daylight between us and the City on the importance of preserving public housing — and we will continue to urge the City to work with us to pass these comprehensive regulations and create a path toward responsible home sharing.”

New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres says he will hold hearings to ascertain the extent of Airbnb rentals in NYCHA housing.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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