Innovation

Airbnb Launches New Platform To Help Syrian Refugees, Among Others

Airbnb has launched a new platform aimed at enabling regular people to host Syrian refugees, refugees in Europe and other people in need, dubbed Open Homes.

According to the company, the Airbnb platform lets anyone sign up to host refugee or other person in need by providing them with part or all of their house. A handful of nonprofits and relief agencies can search the platform to find temporary housing for the people they are helping. It’s the responsibility of the organization to vet the refugees or those who are displaced and reserve the residency. Airbnb doesn’t collect fees from the new platform, and the relief agencies don’t have to pay to place the people in the homes.

Forbes noted that there are 6,000 listings on the platform in locations across the world. The main locations for the temporary housing is in the U.S. and Europe. The four areas of needs Airbnb is helping with are refugees and asylum seekers, disaster, medical needs, and the homeless. The idea is to provide the housing for a few nights up to a few weeks. Forbes reported the new platform is drawing a lot of interest from people who are not existing Airbnb hosts but want to help. Only around half of the listings are from Airbnb existing hosts.

“This is a brand new way for people to contribute and give back in a way that’s actually needed the most,” said Joe Gebbia, Airbnb’s cofounder and chief product officer, in an interview with Forbes.

Airbnb has been informally helping people since Superstorm Sandy hit the New York City area in 2012. It has also enabled temporary housing during other disasters including fires in Fort McMurray and Canada and during the Orlando nightclub shooting last year when family members of the victims needed housing, noted the report.

“Anywhere in the world where we have a community, we can help people in need within hours,” Gebbia said in the report. “In some cases, we can help the community respond to people in need faster than the government.”

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