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As Donald Trump pledged to bar refugees from entering the U.S. in his first days as president, Airbnb stepped up to the plate. CEO Brian Chesky said that the company would aim to provide housing for 100,000 refugees over the next five years. Now, Airbnb has announced its official program designed to house refugees, evacuees, and others in need of short-term housing: Open Homes.
The idea for Open Homes first began after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. An Airbnb host in New York wanted to volunteer rooms in her home for free. That kickstarted an internal hackathon to make the idea a reality. Now, thanks to coordination with relief organizations, it has blossomed into this program, which you can sign up for here.
Anyone can sign up for Open Homes, as long as you’ve got a spare room or two in your place. You don’t need to be a “normal” Airbnb host, either. The program is specifically trying to house people who are displaced by either natural disaster or a refugee crisis. If you’re willing to offer free housing to someone even for just a night or two, Airbnb encourages you to sign up.
“In the past, Airbnb staff worked directly with relief organizations to match refugees with hosts who had volunteered their homes,” Airbnb explains in a blog post. This process, unfortunately, was typically incredibly slow. “Our new platform allows relief organizations to connect people in need directly with Airbnb volunteer hosts, which means a faster process and fewer missed opportunities.”
Participants can specify which days their home is available and how many people they’re willing to host. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll be vetted by an organization such as the International Rescue Committee, which will then eventually be in charge of making bookings for those in need. So far, more than 6,000 people across the globe have signed up for Open Homes.
H/T The Verge
Christina Bonnington is a tech reporter who specializes in consumer gadgets, apps, and the trends shaping the technology industry. Her work has also appeared in Gizmodo, Wired, Refinery29, Slate, Bicycling, and Outside Magazine. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and has a background in electrical engineering.