Airbnb, the travel accommodation service has introduced Open Homes for relief causes which serve as a voluntary effort. The hosts on the network can register with Airbnb to offer their houses and rooms free of charge. Especially for people who have been displaced from their houses and seeking refuge through a natural disaster crisis or emergency.
The San Francisco-based service planned to announce the new program Saturday at the annual U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Boston. The idea to expand Open Homes came out of how to make its program more effective and responsive to crises. The feature sends messages to hosts on the platform inviting them to volunteer their homes to families in need. The program starts this August in San Jose, California, and the plan is to expand to more and eventually globally. The new program allows both Airbnb users and those who have never used the platform to sign up ahead of time to be effective during crisis and emergencies. Airbnb has offered relief effort services for several years now but it was always after a disaster hit. It did take some time to recruit volunteers and created a huge mess. So now they are already preparing volunteers beforehand lest there be any disaster.
Airbnb reported that several California residents had signed up to help refugees in fleeing from war-torn countries and people separated from their homes during a crisis. In 2017, almost 160 hosts in the Bay area volunteered right after the travel ban. Also, the company has hosted nearly 9,000 homes in over 90 disasters so far. The reason to start in San Jose was that the city relied on Airbnb in 2017 to provide homes to people displaced during a major flooding. This required the service to accommodate 14,000 families causing $100 million in damage.