The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop #01348

Submission Number:
Nicole Schubert
Initiative Name:
The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
I am an Airbnb Host living in Honolulu, HI. I am a full-time public school teacher and my wife is a graduate student and a children's ballet instructor. We live in a 3-bedroom duplex with our roommate, who is also a full-time public school teacher. Hawaii public school teachers are the lowest paid in the nation based on cost of living. Without Airbnb, we live paycheck to paycheck. Our house is in a lower-middle class neighborhood of Honolulu. The rent in this area for 3-bedroom apts. is lower than the majority of the city, and yet we still find ourselves living with three people in a 1000-sq ft duplex in the "ghetto" neighborhood. As public servants, we aren't paid well for the amount of service we feel we provide to the community. Although we are paid for a 35-hour workweek, I personally work closer to 55 hours/week and do not know a single public school teacher who doesn't work nights and weekends doing prep and grading for school. Many of us hold additional jobs as well. I know a Department Head who cuts fish every Saturday mornings and a Vice Principal who is a cashier on Sunday mornings. Personally, I tutor children in the evenings to help with bills. I have considered returning to work as a bartender on the weekends, but feel that is too much for me to achieve. With Airbnb, we are able to rent out our guest room and live more comfortably. Our roommate is engaged to be married this winter, and with Airbnb we were able to drop his rent so that he can save money for his wedding. We finally have enough money to buy new shoes, clothes, and other necessities rather than putting those purchases off for months and months. We have been able to make car repairs and stay on top of our bills. For the first time in four years since moving to Hawaii, I can make my student loan payments. Airbnb also makes it possible for us to travel. We cannot afford to stay in hotels. We are too old to stay in student hostels. If we travel to places where we have no friends or family to stay with, Airbnb makes it possible for us. We live very simply. We only have one car and do not have cable TV, nor do we have brand new electronics or new cell phones. All of our furniture was donated by friends who moved off of the island. We buy the majority of our "new" clothes at the Goodwill or other thrift stores. We rarely eat at restaurants and cook meals for work during the week. We save cans and bottles and turn them in for spare cash at the recycling center. We grow a lot of our own food in our backyard garden, and trade excess fruit from our trees for goods from our friend's gardens. When it rains, I wash my car with the warm rainwater. While all of these practices help us to live economically, none can take the place of the money we are able to earn with Airbnb. I hope these comments help Washington lawmakers understand the importance of the sharing economy for middle and lower-middle class Americans to earn additional income, without the tremedous sacrifice of working multiple jobs. Thank you for your time. Nicole Schubert