The program, called Open Homes, is going through a testing phase in San Jose, California, where community members can sign up to offer their homes to help those in need in an emergency. Allowing hosts to sign up to help before a disaster actually occurs will make the response faster and more effective, according to Airbnb. Open Homes will also offer in-person preparedness training and recruitment events, a digital education campaign and a new protocol for communications with emergency management teams for when the hosts are needed.
The idea stems from Hurricane Sandy in 2012 when a host in New York asked if she could open her living space for free. Airbnb added that it is looking to expand the pilot program to other cities as well.