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Queens Chronicle

Airbnb empowers New Yorkers such as myself

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Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:25 am, Thu Dec 19, 2013.

In the last month, there has been a lot of news about Airbnb in New York. I’m an Airbnb host in Astoria and I think it’s important that people in Queens know more about Airbnb and how it has improved my life.

As a competitive marathon runner and avid musician, my time is consumed with promoting classical music and logging 40+ miles a week. My nonprofit job at Carnegie Hall allows me to get by, but I don’t have a lot of extra spending money.

When my mother’s medical bills and mortgages started to weigh on her, I knew I had to help. I dipped into my savings and started working evenings doing odd jobs. I didn’t think there was anything else I could do to make ends meet and help my family.

Last year, a friend told me about Airbnb and it sounded like a great way to rent out the extra room in my condo in Astoria. I had used Craigslist to fill my second bedroom with random roommates to help pay my mortgage, but the results were inconsistent.

Airbnb is different. Now I rent out my extra bedroom to new people with new perspectives.

Most of these guests would never be able to afford one- and two-week stays in a hotel, but with my place through Airbnb they can stay longer and spend more money at local businesses.

I provide them with an affordable, pleasant, enjoyable experience. I love acting as a local guide to my neighborhood, serving fresh coffee in the morning, and maybe even treating them to a free concert. They can experience the city like a local and leave feeling like they’ve made a new friend in the city. Airbnb has helped me pay the bills, cover my mother’s mortgage and pay her medical bills.

I don’t know what I would do without this additional income — and the new experiences these guests bring to my life is an added benefit. I know there have been questions about taxes. I pay taxes on the money I earn and I’d gladly pay any additional taxes, too.

The message on the Statue of Liberty reads: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free … ” Should we add “ ... but only if they can afford $180 or more per night for a hotel?”

Everyone deserves access to this vibrant city. I love New York — and with Airbnb, I get to share the city I love with the world.

Michael Naess, a marketing manager with Carnegie Hall, lives in Astoria.

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