Airbnb offering free rooms to hurricane Florence evacuees

Thursday, September 13, 2018


AirbnbWith Hurricane Florence rapidly approaching the southeastern seaboard, many are
More than 300 hosts from Pennsylvania to Alabama are participating in Airbnb’s Disaster Response Program, by which they can easily offer their room or spare unit to people on the run from Mother Nature, free of charge.

They do not get anything out of it except presumably the satisfaction of helping someone in need.

Three hundred spare rooms might not make a big dent in the thousands upon thousands looking for a place to stay, but it is a nice example of a platform making it easy to generate a little social good. Airbnb has done this for lots of other disasters, but not everyone knows about it, so if you’re new to the system, consider signing up.

The Open Homes Project was launched in 2012 (after Superstorm Sandy) by Airbnb to help people who were forced out of their homes due to natural disasters or other emergencies.

There isn’t a limit on the number of nights a host can house a refugee, but the idea is “nights to weeks.” There were, as of mid-morning Wednesday, 132 rental properties available.

That number could increase as property owners in selected areas sign up for this round of the program. Evacuees who are not already registered with Airbnb can sign up with the company and immediately take advantage of the offer.

The Open Homes Program started when a host in Brooklyn wanted to volunteer an extra bedroom after Sandy roared through the Northeast. At the time, though, the site could only accept bookings that were tied to a payment and linked to a credit card. After the host’s suggestion gained traction within Airbnb, the engineering team worked overnight to develop the capability for a “zero-dollar” listing. The company then messaged its New York City hosts that the option was available, and 1,000 people ended up listing their homes for free to those displaced.


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