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Airbnb Activates Program To Connect Hurricane Dorian Evacuees With Free Housing

With Hurricane Dorian threatening the Southeast, Airbnb this weekend activated its Open Homes program, which encourages hosts to let storm evacuees stay in lodgings for free. 

As of Sunday night, more than 800 hosts had offered up space, the platform showed. Airbnb said in its announcement that this is one of Airbnb’s largest-ever activations for a natural disaster.

Airbnb Activates Program To Connect Hurricane Dorian Evacuees With Free Housing

On Airbnb's Open Homes page, owners can offer up their lodgings (even if they typically don't rent out space on Airbnb) and needy folks can find a place to stay. The program was designed to help people who must leave their home due to a disaster and relief workers deployed to help.

To book a place to stay, guests and hosts can connect directly through the online platform. Guests are supposed to certify that they are displaced. Potential hosts can ask questions, agree on logistics and set expectations about the stay before committing. (Airbnb also helps refugees and people who need to travel for medical reasons; in those cases, they work with nonprofits to match needy people with housing.)

Airbnb asks that Open Homes hosts provide a spare room or apartment, a comfortable bed, basic amenities and toiletries, and availability for two or more days. Airbnb has 24/7 phone support and offers hosts reimbursements for property damage up to $1M.

The Open Homes concept began after Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and has been adapted for Airbnb listings around the globe in the wake of natural disasters.  

Kellie Bentz, Airbnb's head of global disaster response and relief, said in a statement, “Airbnb’s Open Homes Program continues to be activated for those affected by Hurricane Dorian across the southeast U.S. region. Through the program, those in need of temporary accommodations can connect with Open Homes hosts in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Alabama free of charge. We encourage hosts to open up their homes, and those who need housing to take advantage of the program.”

The Open Homes Program is scheduled through Sept. 16 in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and parts of Alabama.