Airbnb Offers Free Housing to Storm Refugees

Sep 13, 2018

Hotels along evacuation routes from the east coast are likely to fill up quickly in advance of Hurricane Florence, and home-sharing service Airbnb now says it will provide free lodging for those who are displaced by the storm. 

The Open Homes program began after Hurricane Sandy left many people in search of shelter.

People drive over a drawbridge in Wrightsville Beach, N.C., as they evacuate the area in advance of Hurricane Florence on Tuesday.
Credit (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

"We had a number of Airbnb hosts in those impacted areas that reached out, saying that they wanted to make their homes available for the families that were impacted by the storm," says company spokesman Crystal Davis.

Those hosts were paid – not by evacuees, relief workers or clean up volunteers -- but by the company. 

Aside from doing good, Davis says, the San Francisco based firm increased its circle of hosts.

"A lot of times when we do have hosts that join Airbnb for the first time they join either for a major event like the Superbowl or for Open Homes."

The offer of free lodging – where available – runs through October first.  On Thursday, the company expanded the Open Homes program to Roanoke, Lynchburg and Richmond, in addition to Charlottesville.