The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop #01990

Submission Number:
Amy Wong
Initiative Name:
The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
June 13, 2014 Dear FTC: My name is Amy Wong and I have been an airbnb host in Portland, Oregon since 2011. I moved to Portland to attend Lewis & Clark law school, known for its strong environmental and public interest focus. I now work in the public interest field and volunteer for several organizations in my community. However, after my first semester at Lewis & Clark, I seriously contemplated leaving school because of the high tuition and other school-related costs and the reality of the law school debt load I was facing that would be difficult to re-pay on a public interest lawyer's income. I then realized that I could start renting out bedrooms in my home to help increase my income and went on to finish law school. In time, the extra income that I earned through airbnb helped to considerably defray my tuition and living costs, and enabled me to not only make improvements to my home and yard, but also hire a part-time house manager and gardener. Many neighbors have commented on how they appreciate the landscaping and gardening projects that I have been able to do to my home. I vet my guests carefully, and give them recommendations for local amenities, enriching the neighborhood's economy. I also have quiet hours in place so as to not disturb my neighbors and have not received a single complaint in all of my years of hosting. In my opinion, organizations who oppose activity like airbnb because they claim that it reduces long-term rental housing stock don't have the complete picture and aren't taking people like me into consideration. I was able to stay out of considerable debt and continue to work public interest jobs as a result of the sharing economy. If not for airbnb, I would not have been able to finish law school and do the community-minded work that I do. Cities and municipalities should find alternative ways to provide affordable housing instead of making it harder for ordinary citizens to participate in the sharing economy-many of which would be in dire financial straits if they weren't able to do so. Portland has now implemented regulations that make it harder for me to continue with airbnb (while the city benefits by taxing the activity), which is unfortunate. I am happy to pay the taxes, I just don't want to be limited in how I share my home. Airbnb has been a lifesaver for me and allowed me to create more financial stability and dedicate my life to public service. Most sincerely, Amy Wong