Airbnb’s Open Homes Program Houses Hurricane Survivors

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Helping those in need is nothing new for Airbnb. Since 2012, the company has connected thousands of people displaced by natural disasters and other emergency events with nearby hosts willing to donate their spare bedrooms. In 2015, Airbnb added a donation tool to their website for refugee assistance efforts through a partnership with The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Now, in response to the recent onslaught of hurricanes that have destroyed many homes and damaged countless others, Airbnb is once again stepping up to offer assistance in a crucial way: free shelter for those with nowhere else to go.

Through its Open Homes program, Airbnb creates a platform for hosts in disaster areas to list their homes for free. Then either partner agencies or verified account holders contact the hosts to set up bookings, which can last from one night to over a month, depending on the host’s preferences and availability. The process happens quickly, and people who have become homeless overnight soon have a secure and welcoming place to rest and recover.

“At the heart of our mission is the idea that people are fundamentally good and every community is a place where you can belong,” writes Airbnb CEO and Co-founder Brian Chesky on the Airbnb website.

Over 700 hosts signed up to help Hurricane Harvey evacuees and relief workers, and another 200+ have opened their homes in the US and the Caribbean to those affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, with numbers continuing to rise.

Even with all they’ve already accomplished, Airbnb founders don’t plan to stop anytime soon. In February, the company announced their goal to find free housing for 100,000 displaced people over the next five years. They will also donate $4 million over the next four years to the International Rescue Committee (IRC), to provide resources directly to refugees, evacuees, and others who need emergency assistance.

Founders are optimistic about the future generosity of hosts to help achieve these goals. Co-founder Joe Gebbia writes in an Airbnb blog post titled Opening More Homes to People in Need, “…Every single time we’ve asked our community to open their doors and hearts to help others, they have more than exceeded our expectations: they have humbled us with the immensity of their kindness.”

For more information and to volunteer your home, visit the Open Homes page here.

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