June 25, 2017

Airbnb refugees program draws more than 100 New Yorkers in opening days

Photo of LG Smartphone with Airbnb logotype on the screen. Selective focus.
Copyright: gyddik / 123RF Stock Photo

Airbnb is working with the International Rescue Committee to shelter refugees. Airbnb began allowing people to use the home-sharing platform to host refugees for free last Wednesday, and within two days more than 100 New Yorkers signed up for the initiative, the company said.

Airbnb’s director of social good Kim Rubey said 6,000 users across the globe indicated they were interested in offering free stays for refugees. More than half of these volunteers were new to Airbnb.

“We’re getting a lot of interest from people who haven’t yet hosted and want to start this way,” Rubey said. “We’re really overwhelmed by how positive the response has been.”

Airbnb is working in the United States with the International Rescue Committee, a nonprofit that finds short-term housing for people escaping conflict and disaster, and with similar relief groups in other countries. These organizations are given an Airbnb account that allows them to search on behalf of refugees, evacuees and other displaced people they have vetted, and then sign clients up for home stays that fit their needs.

The nonprofits generally seek out spaces available for days to weeks, but a one-night stay can be beneficial in certain situations, Rubey […]

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