The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
I have read pieces in the media about vacation rentals, both in the city of New Orleans and nationally, and none of these resonate remotely to the world i move in and people I have known or come into contact with these past five years. Like many who do this, it was born out of a need to survive. We used the income to be able to manage my severely disabled (blind and paralyzed) mother in law into nursing care her final years. We have kept several small businesses in regular work for years, income they would be devastated to lose, from housekeepers, maintenance man, contractors, managers, a van driver for ground transport, and guests are all happy to pay living wage rates for the services which I give to the providers in its entirety. I do not take a cut of their pay like small hotels and larger chains. They earn EXCELLENT money for this region, and they are all 1099d and pay taxes. My housekeepers life has been most radically affected, a single mother who had recently had her automobile repossessed by administrative error, missed 2 payments, paid them in person, but by the time the info filtered through the corporate structyre her only mode of transport had been removed from her home and was now on an auction block 7 hours away. I BARELY knew this person at the time, but we fronted her two months salary so she could purchase an automobile continue to work, and she has gone on to thrive, work her BONES off while i have mentored her from housekeeping into management, and now provides a much better life for her children, birthday parties, vacations. They are ALL reminded to pay it forward, to be mindful that they use local businesses and support the local economy wherever possible. Maintenance man is here legally from Honduras since Katrina and his wife has begun learning the trade (unimaginable in the small town where she came from) and become quite an excellent contractor in her own right. We have had family reunions from around the world, weddings bar mitzvahs, marriage proposals in our back yard. Survival from cancer parties. We are not undercutting hotel prices, because my guests pay far more than a hotel, but they would never consider staying in one. They are selling rooms. We are selling a home; an experience. We never evicted anyone or caused a housing unit to be taken from the market. The home was a termite ridden teardown and because it was on am historic "golden block" (where all homes on either side are historically accurate) the cost to rehab it was exhorbitant. It had to be completely rebuilt and nearly fell in the process of replacing the framing while it stood. It sat on the market for years due to the rehab cost and made the entire block look sketchy. It was already the largest house on the block, it went from the worst to the very best, and nearly all the other properties have rehabbed since. I do not doubt that there are some that use this practice unethically. They are quite a separate animal from most vacation rental hosts and could very easily be eliminated with regulation. We simply want a process by which to become legal tax paying entities in our community, but for some reason we are always being blamed for social ills like home affordability and availability (there is a GLUT of available, rehab able housing in New Orleans) and other social ills that have nothing to do with and existed decades before AirBnB and these online rental services existed. I do not know of anything in my lifetime that has allowed the average person to lift themselves and in turn take other small business providers with them. Not everyone can do this, but the demand AND the supply already exists, and there simply needs to be a path for these enterprises to particate in tax revenues so that the prosperity we have created for all these small business can also flow into the local communites.