Shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump issued a ban on travel from six predominantly Muslim countries, the founders of Airbnb announced a bold plan to provide short-term housing to 100,000 refugees over the next five years. Until recently, no one knew how exactly how that feat would be accomplished. Today, however, the company announced that it will connect seven nonprofit organizations devoted to assisting those who are fleeing their homelands through a new Open Homes platform.
After the ban was issued, the three founders of Airbnb championed the hashtag #WeAccept and said, “To help people around the world facing displacement, we’ll work with our community of hosts to find not just a place to stay, but also a place to feel connected, respected, and a part of a community again.” For months, employees and volunteers have used a highly inefficient system to connect nonprofit organizations with volunteers through emails, phone calls, and spreadsheets. “Dozens of man hours to settle one family in one place,” Airbnb cofounder Joe Gebbia told Fast Company. “Highly inefficient and highly unscalable.” Now that the process is automated, a total of seven nonprofits may easily connect with volunteers to provide short-term housing to refugees who are in need of a secure, safe place to stay.
Some of the organizations that have partnered with Airbnb include the International Rescue Committee, Singa Quebec, the Inland Refugee Society of British Columbia, and SolidarityNow. After volunteers sign on to the Open Homes platform, they’ll be able to specify the cause they would like to donate their room or home to. Nonprofits that seek to set up a family or an individual with temporary housing will then be able to view lists of potential volunteers.
This isn’t the first time Airbnb has partnered with home owners to help displaced individuals. After Hurricane Sandy left thousands of people stranded, Airbnb launched a platform which now connects people in need with short-term shelter. To date, the company’s efforts have placed 1,900 people worldwide – including around U.S. cities such as Dallas, New York, Oakland, and Sacramento. Additionally, 290 refugees have found short-term housing since the beginning of 2017. Considering 65 million people are still displaced, this number is quite low. However, Airbnb is optimistic many more people can be assisted through the Open Homes platform.
Via Fast Company
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