The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop #00624

Submission Number:
00624
Commenter:
Vanessa Johnson
State:
California
Initiative Name:
The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
I've been a resident in South L.A. for more than 50 years and still live in the same home that I was raised in. I am a loyal citizen in District 15 and have been a member of my neighborhood Planning and Land Use Management Committee for two years now. Up until recently, I was working as an antique dealer until my mother reached an age where she was no longer able to care for herself and I had to cut back on working to look after her. In that time, my husband and I converted her garage into a living unit for ourselves so that she could stay in her home and I could be close by to keep an eye on her. When my mother passed away, we were left not only with an emotional void, but a financial one as well. The income her social security had brought in helped us to pay the property taxes and maintain the home. Without the extra income, we were unable to afford to stay in the home I grew up in. Desperate to find a solution, we discovered Airbnb and started renting out the main house and my husband and I continued staying in the converted garage. I can't express enough what an impact Airbnb has contributed to my life. In the time that I was caring for my mother, my husband became ill with an incurable cancer called multiple myeloma and the progression of his disease has required my full-time attention as his caregiver. Opening my home to visitors has allowed me to stay afloat and care for my loved ones in their time of need. Without the income I generate from sharing our space, I would have been unable to pay our bills. Even more, I couldn't afford to stay at home and be a caregiver to my husband and would have been forced to put him in a government-funded facility. Airbnb has literally been our lifesaver. Hosts aren't the only people being positively affected by home sharing. My neighborhood has benefited greatly from the tourism dollars my guests bring into the community. Areas like South L.A. have not had the benefits of visitors before due to its unfair reputation. My guests come from all over the world and nothing makes me more proud than being able to showcase my neighborhood to travelers interested in feeling like a local. They love that there's a neighborhood ice cream man and say it makes them feel like a kid again, they eat at our neighborhood restaurants and they shop at our corner markets. My guests have told me that they were never interested in staying at a hotel or having a typical tourist experience, but only visited the area because Airbnb gives them a chance to feel at home and live like a local.