A transition at Peers to create greater impact

As 2014 ends I want to take a moment to thank you for being with us this year, and let you know about one final change taking place at Peers before year’s end.

2014 has been an incredible year for Peers, and an eventful year for the sharing economy.  We worked together to protect host data in NYC, we worked to get ridesharing legalized in California and we fought – and won – a tough battle in Seattle to keep ridesharers on the road.   Over the past year we listened to your feedback – through surveys, Peers events, focus groups, and more –  to learn what else you wanted from Peers. We heard loud and clear from you, that while enthusiastic around the progress we’ve made with our advocacy efforts, the best way we could accomplish our mission to advance the sharing economy is to support the workers of the sharing economy.

Based on this feedback, one month ago we launched Income Discovery and the Support Marketplace to help you find and manage work, and last week we launched two products created in direct response to your feedback, Homesharing Liability Insurance and Keep Driving.  We even ended the year participating in a roundtable at the White House where we represented your challenges working in the sharing economy.  We have a new and refined mission, to make the sharing economy work for the people who power it. With your help we’ve already made meaningful progress in that direction, but we’re just getting started.

As the year comes to a close we want to let you know about one final change that has made this new direction possible.  While we explored ways to make earning in the sharing economy easier for you, we realized two things.  First, Peers’ organizational legal structure was complicating our ability to explore new types of business activities.  Peers was founded as a hybrid organization: a nonprofit foundation that fully owned and operated a for-profit benefit corporation.  The organization was structured this way to ensure that our social mission was incorporated into all of our activities.  However, there are restrictions on the kinds of business activities a nonprofit foundation can participate in, which would have limited our ability to build the products and services demanded by the community.

Secondly, to support your work in the sharing economy we need funding.  In its first year Peers was funded by donations, which were time consuming and distracting to raise, and has led some to question Peers’ independence.  We needed a long-term business model that was sustainable and allowed us to quickly respond to your needs by building the kinds of solutions that other companies aren’t.

The simplest solution to these two issues was to separate the two organizations, the Peers corporation and the Peers Foundation, so they can operate independently of one another.  As separate organizations, Peers and the Peers Foundation can work in tandem to make a bigger impact than as a single hybrid organization. While the Peers Foundation is still defining its future, it is well suited to pursue issues related to the sharing economy such as equal access and workforce training. Peers has the freedom to offer you the kinds of products that we launched last week, while continuing to demonstrate our commitment to a social mission through our B Corporation certification. Further, an independent company that is not tied to a nonprofit owner can raise investment capital to fund the creation of future products and services. The process to separate the two organizations was completed this week.

This is the last step in bringing to life our new vision for Peers, directed by you, our community. Peers has greatly evolved in the past few months, but the separation of the foundation and B corp will not create a noticeable difference in our operations to you, besides the new activities we launched over the last month. As we did earlier this year, we will be returning to you for feedback and guidance as we consider how the two organizations can support you further. If you have any comments or questions regarding any of the changes over the past few months, please email me at shelby.clark@peers.org.  It might take a little time, but I will respond to each message I receive.

As we close the chapter on an incredible year, I’m amazed at what I’ve seen you accomplish as a workforce, what you’ve taught me about a new model of work, and what you’ve pushed us at Peers to achieve. This year completes the initial chapter of Peers, and the new year brings a new chapter with new possibilities.

Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season,

Shelby Clark

What you need to know about the Health Insurance Marketplace

 

If you want to have the right health insurance coverage by January 1st, you need to enroll in a healthcare plan by December 15th [which is next Monday!!]. To help you get prepared, Peers teamed up with the The Department of Health and Human Services at the White House to get answers on the your biggest questions.

We’d to say a big thank you Rhett Buttle, Director, Private Sector Engagement, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for pull this together for our community:

Why do I need health insurance?

No one plans to get sick or hurt, but most people need medical care at some point. Health insurance covers these costs and offers many other important benefits.

How much will health insurance cost?

  • How much you will pay depends on a number of factors such as your age and your family size, but nearly 8 in 10 current Marketplace consumers can find coverage in the 2015 Marketplace for $100 or less, taking into account any applicable tax credits. You can check out your options by answering a few quick questions at Healthcare.gov/see-plans/.

Will I have to change doctors?

  • Some types of plans allow you to see almost any doctor or health care facility. Others limit your choices to a network of doctors and facilities, or require you to pay more if you use providers outside the network.
  • To get details about a plan you might qualify to enroll in through the Marketplace, the plan you can also view a summary of benefits, a plan brochure, a provider directory, and a list of covered drugs. If staying with your current doctors is important to you, check to see if they’re included in the provider directory before choosing a plan.

How do I sign up?

  • Visit HealthCare.gov
  • Call the 24/7 Marketplace call center: 1-800-318-2596 (TTY 1-855-889-4325) there are call center representatives ready to answer questions and help people stay covered or get the coverage they need.
  • Find in-person assistance in your own community at localhelp.healthcare.gov

What’s the deadline to sign up?

  • Open Enrollment started November 15th – You can find affordable coverage between now and February 15, 2015. Your coverage can start as soon as January 1st if you sign up by December 15, 2014.

How do I figure out which plan is best for me?

  • Compare plans based on what’s important to you, and choose the combination of price and coverage that fits your needs and budget. As you shop for a plan, here are some things you should know and consider:
  1. All plans offered through the Marketplace cover the same categories of essential health benefits.
  2. Plans are put into four categories based on how you and the plan can expect to share the costs for health care – Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. If you’re under 30 and qualify for a hardship exemption, you may also be eligible to buy catastrophic coverage through the Marketplace.
  3. In general, when choosing your health plan keep this in mind: The lower the premium, the higher the out-of-pocket costs. The higher the premium, the lower the out-of-pocket costs. If you expect a lot of doctor visits or need regular prescriptions, a plan that pays more of your out of pocket costs may be a better fit for you.
  4. Depending on your income, you may be able to get lower costs on your health coverage.
  5. To learn more, visit healthcare.gov/choose-a-plan/.

Do plans differ by state?

  • Every health plan offered through the Marketplace covers the same categories of essential health benefits, including doctor visits, preventive care, hospitalization, prescription drugs, and more. However, specific benefits may be different in each state. Even within the same state, there can be small differences between plans.

Can I change my plan once I commit?

  •  You can change your plan every year during Open Enrollment, or keep your plan if your issuer continues to offer it. Additionally, should you undergo certain life changes, such as getting married or moving to a new state, you may qualify for a Special Enrollment period, which would allow you to change your plan. Check out the blog about SEPs at Healthcare.gov to learn more.

Who can help me pick the right plan?

  •  In most areas, there are individuals trained and certified to provide in-person assistance to someone looking for help getting covered. See what’s available in your area by checking localhelp.healthcare.gov. You can also get 24/7 help over the phone at 1-800-318-2596 (TTY 1-855-889-4325).

What type of plan is good for somebody who works in the sharing economy (i.e. Lyft driver or Etsy seller)?

  • Overall, shoppers on the Federally Facilitated Health Insurance Marketplace can choose from an average of 40 health plans for 2015 coverage, so chances are you’ll be able to find a plan to suit your needs no matter what you do for a living. No matter how you make your living, be sure to compare plans based on what’s important to you, and choose the combination of price and coverage that fits your needs and budget.

I make $27,000 driving for Lyft. How do I know whether I qualify for subsidies?

  • Whether you qualify for subsidies will depend, in part, on your household income and the number of people in your household. To find your estimated 2015 household income and household size, view the chart at this link on Healthcare.gov.

What information do I need to enroll or reenroll in Marketplace coverage and insurance affordability programs?

  • When you apply for enrollment or re-enrollment in coverage in the Health Insurance Marketplace and for insurance affordability programs, you’ll need to provide some information about you and your household, including income, any insurance coverage you currently have, and some additional items. Be sure to have the following handy when you apply to enroll or reenroll in coverage and insurance affordability programs:
  1. Home and/or mailing address for everyone applying for coverage or renewing coverage
  2. Applicants’ Social Security Numbers and/or documentation of citizenship or legal immigration status
  3. Employer and income information (such as W-2 Forms, or pay stubs) for every member of your household
  4. You best estimate of what your household income will be in 2015
  5. Policy numbers for any current health insurance plans covering members of your household
  6. A completed “Employer Coverage Tool” for every job-based plan you or someone in your household is eligible for. (You’ll need to fill out this form even for coverage you’re eligible for but don’t enroll in.) Visit HealthCare.gov/downloads/employer-coverage-tool.pdf to view or print the tool.
  7. Notices from your current Marketplace plan that include your plan ID, if you have or had health coverage in 2014.

Our first “homegrown” products, by popular request: Homesharing Liability Insurance and Keep Driving

It’s been just over two months since I formally joined Peers as Executive Director, and only three weeks since we relaunched with a new direction, and a new website to help make the sharing economy a better work opportunity.  The Peers team is a small, incredibly hard-working, dedicated crew, and we’re all inspired by your hard work, creativity and versatility as pioneers of this new economy.  Today we’re announcing two new products available in the Support Marketplace, brought to you by Peers: Homesharing Liability Insurance that follows you wherever you list your home, and Keep Driving to get ridesharing drivers in a replacement vehicle while their car is being repaired after an accident.

Over the summer we asked you, our community, what you needed, and we heard you loud and clear: you need work in the sharing economy to be easier, simpler, safer.  We heard many suggestions, and three weeks ago we launched the two we could build the fastest: Income Discovery, to make it easier to find work, and the Support Marketplace, to make it easier to find products and services to easier manage work.  Simultaneously, we began working on some of the solutions we knew would take a little longer. Solutions that didn’t already exist, and that would need some imagination and creativity both on the part of Peers, but also on the part of some innovative partners to help us bring your ideas into reality.  We are so excited to be able to announce two of these solutions today!

Homesharing Liability Insurance is personal liability insurance that covers you for all your homesharing, no matter which website you use.  We know you need simple solutions to make your homesharing easy and safe, and that means one policy that covers you for all your homesharing. Homesharing Liability Insurance covers:

  • Bodily injury to your guest, up to $1 million
  • Property damage to your guest, up to $1 million
  • Lost income as a result of major damage to your home by your guest, up to 3 months’ income or $5,000

Oh, and you also said you wanted it to be affordable too, so it’s $36/month, only for the months you need it.  Only homeshare once a year when you go away for summer vacation?  No problem, just pay for the month you’re gone.  Learn more here.

Keep Driving helps ridesharing drivers feel more stable in their earnings, by protecting you from being unable to drive after your car has been damaged in an accident.  You told us that one of your biggest concerns was relying 100% on your car to be able to work, as the ridesharing platforms don’t allow you to work in a borrowed or rented car.  We partnered with Breeze so that you can keep driving – and working – in a vehicle while your car is being repaired.  Breeze vehicles are short-term leases, registered in your name, so you’re able to use them to earn on the ridesharing sites, and you can keep it for up to 4 weeks as part of your membership to Keep Driving, which is $19.99/month.  Need your car for work in the sharing economy but you’re not a ridesharing driver?  No problem, Keep Driving is for you too, delivery workers.  We’re all in this together.  Learn more here.

We’re incredibly excited.  This is the first step towards our vision for the Support Marketplace. A new economy has created new needs that call for new solutions, and the Support Marketplace is a place where you can find solutions to make your work easier.  When solutions exist, we will help you find them through the marketplace, which was our focus when we introduced it to you a few weeks ago.  But when the solutions don’t exist, we will build them ourselves when we can, or we will aim to work with other companies to introduce solutions to the Support Marketplace. This is a call to all companies considering serving the workers of the Sharing Economy – let’s do this together.

We’ve achieved a lot in the last few weeks, but we’ve only just begun.  The creativity you’ve shown us in building work around your passions, finding work that fits your life rather than making your life fit your work, and building income streams that support the lifestyle you want – are nothing short of inspiring.  We recognize the challenges you face as a pioneer of the sharing economy workforce, but we believe in the promise these new opportunities hold, and we commit to working with you to make the sharing economy work for you.

 

Sincerely,

Shelby Clark
Executive Director, Peers

Welcome to the next Chapter of Peers!

Welcome to the next chapter of Peers!

My first day as Executive Director of Peers was overwhelming in the support and welcome I’ve received. While I’ve been involved in the sharing economy since before the title “sharing economy” even existed, I am still getting to know you, the Peers community, and that’s the first thing I’d like to address as Executive Director.
Please take a minute to answer four questions that tell us about you, how Peers can support you, and if you’d like to be a beta tester of the new Peers.
It will only take a minute, and will help ensure we’re sending you the information that is most relevant to you.
So, where is Peers heading?
Over the past few years, I’ve intently watched the maturation of the sharing economy. We’ve reached a stage where the conversation has shifted from “what will be the next Airbnb of X?” to “how will the sharing economy shape the future of our society and economy? For many people, earning money through the sharing economy represents critical income with unprecedented flexibility, but it also comes without the support, community, and stability of a traditional job. I feel strongly that there is an opportunity to help meet the needs created in people’s lives as they engage in the sharing economy, and I’m eager to explore these needs in the next chapter of Peers.
While we are still determining which opportunities to address first, I can tell you that you are the driving force behind our new direction. I’ve long been a believer in the power of online connections making a positive impact in our offline lives, and our goal at Peers is to ensure the sharing economy is making a positive impact in your lives. You are the people powering the sharing economy, and we have the power to shape this new economy so that it does what it was created for: helping us live better.
In the coming months we will have some announcements to share as we unveil Peers 2.0, and we hope you will share your feedback with us. In the meantime, we are growing our team, so if you or someone you know are interested in joining us as CTO, please check out our job posting here.
We have an exciting road ahead of us, and I’m honored to be joining you. Together, we are Peers.
Sincerely,
Shelby Clark
Peers Executive Director

Join me in welcoming Shelby Clark, Executive Director of Peers!

I have an exciting update: starting today, Shelby Clark is the new Executive Director of Peers.

Some of you may know him as one of the early pioneers in the sharing economy. Shelby founded the world’s first and largest peer-to-peer carsharing marketplace, RelayRides. He believed there must be a way to connect within our own communities to access the assets we already own, and today RelayRides operates in over 2,300 cities across the US. His experience with peer-to-peer marketplaces spans back to 2006, when he joined Kiva, the online peer-to-peer microfinance pioneer. He helped guide Kiva through its biggest period of growth in the early days of crowdfunding. The board, team, and I are thrilled to have him take the helm at Peers.

This change is part of a bigger shift that we’re taking as an organization.  After talking with many of you, we see an opportunity to expand the ways Peers supports your participation in the sharing economy. We want you to have the power to live better using the efficiency and convenience of the sharing economy, and we want to provide you with the support you need to do that. Given Shelby’s pioneering background in social entrepreneurship, he’s the perfect person to lead Peers forward in this direction.

I’m so proud of everything we’ve done in the past year. Since Peers launched, we’ve grown together to a quarter of a million members around the globe, and connected face to face in cities to build the sharing economy movement. And we’re just getting started. As for me, I’ll remain on the board, and stay closely involved with the organization.

Onward, Peers, and please join me in welcoming Shelby.

Best wishes,
Natalie

Action Alert! Protect Ridesharing In California!

In September, Peers members like you came together to advocate for California to be the first state to legalize ridesharing services like Lyft, Sidecar, and Uber by recognizing them as a new category of transportation, TNCs. Since that time, that landmark decision has inspired many other states, from Colorado to Minnesota and Virginia to Detroit, to pass fair and safe ridesharing regulations of their own. 

But now, as the state’s legislative session draws to a close, all that hard work is in danger of being undone. Two bills, AB 2293 and AB 612, would force new requirements on ridesharing services and drivers that challenge the future vision of widespread peer to peer transportation. 

At Peers, we’re pretty concerned about the impact of these bills if they pass, particularly for providers. Here’s a breakdown of what’s on the table, and info on how you can step up to protect ridesharing

AB 612 would undo the CPUC’s decision to craft rules specific to ridesharing. The designation of Lyft, Sidecar, and Uber as Trasnportation Network Companies would be stripped, forcing these companies and their drivers to adhere to the rules crafted for cab companies. Ultimately, restrictive and redundant requirements would make it hard for people to become new TNC drivers. 

The other bill would hit ridesharing in a pretty hard way. Insurance is an important part of the ridesharing process and it is crucial that strong coverage is in place. Currently riders and drivers are covered by $1 million in insurance, a level that is three times higher than what taxis carry in many parts of the country. But AB 2293 would force new insurance requirements on TNCs that would require them to insure drivers between when the app is turned on, and when they pick up a passenger, a period that is and should continue to be covered by a driver’s primary insurance. This added burden could jeopardize ridesharing all together, by making it prohibitively expensive to insure and, more importantly, would make it incredibly hard for people to drive for more than one platform. 

Overall, we’re all for regulation, but taking a step backwards and undoing smart, safe, fair regulations is a loss for drivers, riders, and Californians. If you live in California, we encourage you to tell your senator why keeping ridesharing legal and accessible is important to you. 

Shared Rides now Available via Ridesharing Services Lyft, Sidecar, and Uber

Last week, Lyft, Sidecar, and Uber all announced that they will facilitate real time shared rides through their services. This means that in the coming weeks, you’ll have the option to share a ride with another passenger going your way, saving you both money, making it easy for drivers to make a little bit more, and lightening your carbon footprint all at once.

We applaud this move as a win win for drivers, riders, and the environment. Sidecar noted that their users have requested 13,000 shared rides in the last few months. That’s a great sign that people actually want to ride in ways that are more sustainable. In Lyft’s words, this opens up “a new category of transportation: personal transit,” by facilitating an alternative to both public transportation and car ownership. Now you can hop an on demand ride with your neighbor, or take a bus/train, or bike without the burden of car ownership. Pretty awesome.

At Peers, we are excited about the sharing economy both for the ways in which it can address immediate inefficiencies and needs, and also its power to change behaviors. It’s our hope that the sharing economy can be a great onramp to more people living more shareable lives. If you ask us, in 5 years we’ll all wonder why we traveled and lived any other way. 

Lyft has Arrived in New York City! Here’s What it Means for you. [Update]

There’s been a lot of buzz lately around ridesharing company Lyft as they launched in New York City yesterday. At Peers, we see this as a big moment not just for Lyft, but for the entire sharing economy community.

As many of you have already experienced first hand, as more and more of us share our cars, houses, food, and stuff, we discover that current rules and regulations don’t quite keep up with the innovation and creativity we are building, often leaving us in a legal gray area. And each time a new way to share gains a critical mass it challenges cities and communities to reexamine how to regulate this new economic activity.

At Peers, we strongly support ridesharing as a way for our members to make some extra money, build community, and contribute to a robust transportation infrastructure for their cities. At the same time, it’s critically important for new standards and regulations to be adopted that are clear, take into account what people want, and protect drivers and consumers.

As a Peers member, here’s what you need to know about what Ridesharing in NY, and what means for you and the sharing economy as a whole.

Why Ridesharing?

Ridesharing enables passengers who need a ride to request one (for a fee) from drivers who have a car. In cities with ridesharing, riders gain more on-demand, affordable transportation options, particularly neighborhoods public transportation doesn’t serve as well. And, there is evidence that suggests ridesharing makes people more likely to take public transportation, which is a win for everyone.

Ridesharing also creates flexible part-time jobs for drivers, who can make up to $25 an hour helping their neighbors get around town. These new income opportunities can boost local economies and even build community.

So, What’s the Problem?

Well, there are hurdles to overcome. Ridesharing isn’t exactly new, but technology is allowing people to participate on a much larger scale than ever before. Because this service is new and different from a taxi, ridesharing apps require cities to create entirely new regulatory frameworks and rules that apply directly to the type of activity that’s happening. And that takes time and a good faith effort to get right.

In the meantime, the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) has already issued a statement warning New Yorkers that the apps are unauthorized and drivers can face fines because they are not officially sanctioned by the TLC. They believe that Ridesharing apps like Lyft should comply with the exact same regulations and rules as Taxis—rules that would make it prohibitively difficult for individuals to become rideshare drivers.

You can see the full TLC statement here.

Here’s what Lyft has said in response:

“Lyft will offer a new and much needed transportation option for New Yorkers in the areas of the city where existing options are lacking. This improvement in transportation will provide important opportunities that New Yorkers want and deserve. We’ll continue to work with all stakeholders to create a path forward. Our focus remains on the community, who will be the ultimate beneficiaries.

Where we differ with the TLC is that we do not believe its licensing and base station rules apply to the Lyft ridesharing model. It’s important to clarify that our differences of opinion are not about safety standards, and that’s because we put safety first. In new markets when we begin conversation with local regulators, we always find a way to ensure that communities have Lyft. We’re certainly different from the status quo, but that is our strength.”

Lyft has provided a “Trust and Safety” comparison chart (below) to compare their safety and insurance policies to Taxicabs.  Check out the Lyft Blog for more.

What we think:

We think Ridesharing is a great service for communities, and frankly, that it’s here to stay. As such, Peers will continue to advocate for a good faith effort from Lyft and the TLC to collaborate on the road to creating a regulatory framework that upholds safety while offering a transportation option that people want.

The first step towards making that collaboration happen is showing public support for ridesharing in NYC so that the two sides can negotiate. Peers members have a long history of advocating for ridesharing and fair regulation of the services they want. Lyft driver Sean Mandell stood for ridesharing in California when the historic CPUC decision was made and ridesharing user ChrisTiana Obey ran a campaign in Seattle to stop the City Council from passing regulations that would have made ridesharing inoperable. The City Council just voted to repeal the regulations and instead move forward with a framework that works for everyone.

We think it’s pretty incredible that people have the opportunity to talk about and advocate for the types of transportation they want for their city. Peers will continue to be a platform for its members to advocate for sharing economy practices, including ridesharing.

Update: After a postponed launch and court hearing with the New York Supreme court, Lyft has agreed to follow current TLC standards by contracting only with licensed TLC drivers in order to operate in New York City.
Here’s what Lyft has said about the agreement:
We will continue to collaborate with all parties on a path forward for Lyft in New York. For our initial launch in New York City, we have agreed to complete the process of getting approval to operate under current TLC rules as soon as possible. We will also begin working with the TLC toward finding a solution that would bring to New York City Lyft’s peer-to-peer model, which is successfully operating in more than 65 cities. This model provides flexibility and economic opportunity to hardworking New Yorkers such as teachers, students, single parents and city workers who cannot afford to undergo the long and expensive process of licensing as a TLC driver.
What this means for you: For the time being, Lyft will have to operate by old industry rules and suspend its core peer to peer operations. If you want a ride, you’ll soon be able to use the app to get one, but if you want to be a driver, for now, you must have a TLC license (find out more about how to get one here). Ultimately, we are hopeful that Lyft and the TLC will be able to work together to bring peer to peer ridesharing to New York. We’ll keep you posted as things develop.

SHARE a Success!

Wow! Almost 700 people from 20 countries participated in SHARE: Catalyzing the Sharing Economy last week. We’re thrilled with SHARE’s success and overwhelmed by the positive response it has gotten. But we couldn’t have done it without our partners, sponsors and members around the world.

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Click here to check out more photos from SHARE and ‘like’ us on Facebook.

The thing people have described most about SHARE is a sense of community and a genuine appreciation for how Peers and our co-host SOCAP brought together people from vastly different backgrounds to chart the future of the sharing economy together. 

Many attendees said that their primary goal in coming to SHARE was to get more educated on the sharing economy. But we were delighted by how much people — regardless of whether they were entrepreneurs, sharing economy providers, activists or venture capitalists — gravitated towards educating themselves on how we embrace the values of equity and fairness as we build the sharing economy. 

At SHARE, our movement took stock of who we are, what we want and where we’re headed together. And through the great press coverage of SHARE from outlets like ShareableTech Hive and SF Chronicle, the mandate to keep exploring this issue of values is rippling out far and wide. 

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Click here to see more photos and quotes from SHARE.

We’re grateful to the folks who participated in SHARE by sharing their stories and creating a vibrant community reflective of the sharing economy. We also couldn’t have pulled off SHARE without our wonderful volunteers and the amazing help of our sponsors — especially AirbnbLyft270 StrategiesR StreetAssuranteBay IncNearMeSidecar and Spark. And we want to extend a special thanks to The Light of Human Kindness, who volunteered artists and connection-makers to make SHARE a richer, more collaborative experience. 

And even if you weren’t able to join us in person, you can still join the conversation! Watch videos of key talks and panels here, and then share your ideas to catalyze the sharing economy using hashtag #2014SHARE

YOU are Catalyzing the Sharing Economy