Healthcare professionals, relief workers, and first responders are at the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, and Airbnb wants to thank them by providing free or subsidized housing near to where they work.
The global initiative, announced on Thursday, aims to help connect 100,000 people who are responding to COVID-19 with “safe and convenient” places to stay between shifts. Hosts can opt in to provide homes that follow new cleanliness protocols based on expert recommendations; Airbnb will waive all fees for stays arranged through this scheme.
“Medical workers and first responders are providing lifesaving support during the coronavirus outbreak and we want to help,” Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia said in a statement. “We’ve heard from countless hosts around the world who want to provide a comforting home to heroic first responders. We are connecting our nonprofit partners, government agencies, and others with our incredible host community to work together in these extraordinary times.”
Airbnb previously ran pilots in Italy and France, offering free accommodation to doctors, nurses, caregivers, and medical support staff responding to COVID-19. Now, hosts around the world can participate through the Open Homes platform. That is, of course, assuming they follow new health and safety requirements, which, aside from listing an entire home (rather than a single room), include cleaning, social distancing with guests, and allowing 72 hours between stays.
“As medical and relief workers require accommodation for response and preparedness, the Airbnb community is in a unique position to help,” according to epidemiologist and program partner Larry Brilliant. “I applaud Airbnb for working under conditions of such uncertainty to provide housing … in this pandemic.”
Other collaborators include the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, International Rescue Committee, and International Medical Corps, among other nonprofits working to support those in the trenches. Airbnb’s participation frees up organizations to focus on providing supplies, training, and education. A new donation tool, meanwhile, makes it easy for anyone to help power more stays for relief workers, with 100 percent of the proceeds going directly to nonprofits helping with COVID-19 efforts.