The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop #00457

Submission Number:
00457
Commenter:
Bridget O'connor
State:
New York
Initiative Name:
The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
I began renting my space through AIRBNB in May of 2012. At the time, I was working 40 hours a week to support myself and young daughter. As a single parent, I was making ends meet with my full time position, but I knew I would never get a handle on the $65,000 in student loans I had or fulfill my dream of owning my own home someday. I had been brainstorming on part-time jobs but was so discouraged knowing whatever position I worked would have to be on nights or weekends, taking time away from my daughter. When I heard about Airbnb I had the same reaction most people have...strangers sleeping in my bed? Sitting on my couches? Using my stuff? I decided it was worth it to try it for one weekend. It beat the alternative of getting a job in the service industry and working late in the evening, missing homework and bedtime with my child. I was living in a relatives home at the time and asked permission to rent the house out. (I know that some people are not afforded the same opportunity and I'm so grateful I was supported in this endeavor.) Looking back, I could have never imagined the doors it would open for me. It took a while to get a handle on creating the house into a rental space by depersonalizing it, purchasing additional sheets, pillows, towels and of course keeping it immaculately clean with a large dog and small child. Nearly every weekend from May through September, I would pack a suit case, my daughter and dog and stay with a friend or family member. In the summer of 2013, I sublet an apartment to stay at on the weekends. The cost of the sublet was recouped in one weekend of renting. Within the first 18 months of hosting, I paid off a 10k note on my vehicle. I also began chipping away at my student loan debt and of course, saving. Last August, after three years of hosting, I was finally able to purchase my own home. I bought a house with a small rental unit attached that pays my taxes and insurance every month. My rationale was that once I purchased a home I would no longer host...it was a bit exhausting, but as every home owner knows project are endless...and expensive. I listed my house again this year and already have nearly 8k in bookings for 2015. I have several thousands of dollars in repairs and projects needed in my home this year, and they will all be covered by the income I generate off Airbnb. Airbnb helps me play too...The money I made this past spring was used to take my daughter on a surprise trip to Disney World. I also went to New Orleans to celebrate my 30th birthday. (My friends and I of course rented several Airbnbs and had wonderful experiences in all of them.) If I can continue to host at the rate I have been for the last four years, I will be able to pay off my student loans in 5 years, rather than 30. I don't know if the creators of Airbnb had people like me in mind when they launched this site, but the money I have made in the last 4 years has made an incredible difference in my life. To a working, middle class, single mother even an extra $500 makes a huge difference. Next month, I have over $2000 in reservations booked. It would be hard to find a part time job that brought that amount of money in each month and didn't cost me time with my daughter.