The number of people being displaced by Hurricane Florence is growing rapidly. And Airbnb is hoping to provide some of them with a free place to stay.
The company has activated its “Open Homes Program,” which offers free temporary lodging to both evacuees and disaster relief workers. Free listings are available in the following cities through Oct. 1:
Georgia: Atlanta Metropolitan area, Augusta Metropolitan area
North Carolina: Charlotte Metropolitan area, Greensboro Metropolitan area
South Carolina: Columbia Metropolitan area, Greenville and Spartanburg Metropolitan area
Virginia: Charlottesville Metropolitan area
The Open Homes Project was launched in 2012 (after Superstorm Sandy) by Airbnb to help people who were forced out of their homes due to natural disasters or other emergencies. There isn’t a limit on the number of nights a host can house a refugee, but the idea is “nights to weeks.” There were, as of mid-morning Wednesday, 132 rental properties available.
That number could increase as property owners in selected areas sign up for this round of the program. Evacuees who are not already registered with Airbnb can sign up with the company and immediately take advantage of the offer.
The Open Homes Program started when a host in Brooklyn wanted to volunteer an extra bedroom after Sandy roared through the Northeast. At the time, though, the site could only accept bookings that were tied to a payment and linked to a credit card. After the host’s suggestion gained traction within Airbnb, the engineering team worked overnight to develop the capability for a “zero-dollar” listing. The company then messaged its New York City hosts that the option was available, and 1,000 people ended up listing their homes for free to those displaced.