Airbnb has launched a global initiative to facilitate housing for first responders dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak. The new program’s goal is to offer lodging to 100,000 health-care professionals, relief medical workers and other medical support staff around the world. Hosts have the option to participate and open their homes for free through Airbnb’s Open Homes Platform, created in 2012 to provide emergency housing.
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The new initiative expands on two pilot programs launched in Italy and France, where first responders can access free housing through the platform. Hosts were quick to respond to the call—nearly 6,000 people offered their homes across Italy and France at the time of Airbnb’s announcement on March 26. Following the worldwide launch of the initiative, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky tweeted that the number of hosts opting in jumped to 12,000.
The company will waive all fees for accommodation arranged through the program, and if hosts are not able to provide free services, Airbnb will waive all fees nonetheless. The company is partnering with businesses, government and emergency management agencies and nonprofits providing support for front line responders. The International Federation of Red Cross, Red Crescent Societies, International Rescue Committee and International Medical Corps have already deployed thousands of relief workers to respond to the outbreak in hot-spot and low-resource areas worldwide.
Stringent safety measures
The short-term rental platform has worked with health officials and experts to develop a safety protocol for hosts, which incorporates preventive practices and rigorous safety standards. The protocol follows requirements from local and national authorities as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Safe hosting recommendations include listing entire homes and agreeing to safety requirements such as allowing 72 hours between stays, enhanced cleaning measures and social distancing with guests. Airbnb has also launched an appeal for donations that will support the nonprofits involved in COVID-19 relief efforts.