Airbnb is offering housing to 20,000 refugees. This comes after the U.S.’s pullout in Afghanistan and the Taliban reclaiming the region. The company says it will pay for the housing at their hosts with contributions from the company’s Airbnb refugee fund which is financed with donations from Airbnb and other independent donors.
Since August 15, countries have evacuated around 58,700 people from the country’s capital, Kabul. “As tens of thousands of Afghan refugees resettle around the world, where they stay will be the first chapter in their new lives. For these 20,000 refugees, my hope is that the Airbnb community will provide them with not only a safe place to rest and start over, but also a warm welcome home,” Brian Chesky the CEO of Airbnb said in a statement. He also hopes his company’s actions will inspire other companies to do more.
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The idea to help victims of emergencies did not start with the Afghan crisis. It began in response to Hurricane Sandy in 2012. At that time, more than 1,000 people needed emergency accommodation after New York City was hit. Since then, the scheme to help victims is said to have helped more than 75,000 people.
Next, the company expanded the scope of the scheme, with the launch of its Open Homes initiative in 2017 to allow its host community to offer their homes for free to people hit by disasters or fleeing conflict. Thanks to this initiative, free stays have been offered to people affected by the Mexico City earthquake, Californian wildfires, Australian bushfires, and other disasters.
The scheme also led the company to set up its own independent non-profit, Airbnb.org, to focus on helping people share housing and resources with each other in times of crisis.
Notably, in 2017, the company offered free housing to stranded refugees, students, and green card holders affected by former President Donald Trump’s executive order limiting refugees. More recently, Airbnb provided free or subsidized housing for 100,000 healthcare workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the pandemic, Airbnb notes it had already connected approximately 25,000 refugees to temporary housing over a four-year period.
The policy of “helping others help you” has given the company a windfall gain. Even though Airbnb will not be making any money on the refugees it provides housing for, the company’s stock has gone up 10% since making the announcement to help displaced refugees.
More generally, the policy helps Airbnb’s image. The number of Airbnb renters may also increase as people may feel more compelled to stay at an Airbnb rather than elsewhere, in response to the company’s good efforts during this crisis. Clearly a result of the free positive PR the company has been receiving after announcing its efforts to help.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by Impakter.com columnists are their own, not those of Impakter.com. — In the Featured Photo: Inside a living space. Featured Photo Credit: Andrea Davis.