57ºF

Airbnb expands Open Homes program for Hurricane Michael

Program facilitates free temporary housing for victims, relief workers

The short-term rental startup announced on Thursday plans to build a 324-unit apartment building in Kissimmee, Florida -- located near Walt Disney World Resorts. (Airbnb/CNN)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Airbnb has expanded its Open Homes Program to aid residents of the Southeast forced to evacuate from their homes in connection with Hurricane Michael, as well as relief workers arriving to provide assistance.

In the event of major emergencies like Michael, Airbnb's Disaster Response and Relief Team activates its host communities through the Open Homes program to support neighbors helping neighbors.

The Open Homes platform allows residents who have been displaced,  as well as emergency relief workers, and volunteers who are coming in to assist to find temporary accommodations with local hosts who are opening their homes free of charge.

Airbnb hosts in the listed communities are eligible to take part in the program, and list their homes for free to evacuees and emergency relief workers.

Florida (nearly all of the northern half of the state)

  • Including Pinellas, Hillsborough, Polk, Osceola, Brevard counties and above
  • Excluding most coastal areas and all of Bay County for safety purposes

Alabama

  • Greater Mobile area
  • Greater Montgomery area
  • Greater Dothan area
  • Greater Auburn/Opelika area

Mississippi

  • Greater Biloxi/Gulfport area

Georgia (entire state)

South Carolina (entire state)

North Carolina (entire state)

The free listings are available from Oct. 8,to Oct. 29. As the need becomes more apparent after landfall, Airbnb will continue to expand the territory of Open Homes listings if and where needed.

The idea for Airbnb’s disaster relief program began in 2012 in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and has since grown into a global disaster response initiative that makes it easy for Airbnb hosts to provide space for people in need when disasters strike. To date, the disaster response and relief team has responded to over 250 disasters worldwide, including most recently Hurricane Florence and Tropical Storm Gordon.

Here's how the Disaster Response Program works:

  • Airbnb has contacted all of its hosts within the activation zone to inform them of the Disaster Response activation and encourage them to take part in the program if they are in a position to help
  • Hosts interested in listing their properties for free are being directed to follow airbnb.com/hurricanemichael, where they can opt in by clicking “Sign Up Your Home
  • The evacuees are being directed to click -- this link -- to find out where they can locate free listings within close proximity by clicking “Find Shelter”.
  • The Airbnb platform then facilitates the connection between the hosts and guests.
  • Those who are not currently Airbnb users are still able to take part in the program either as hosts or guests by creating a verified account on the platform.
  • In addition to the free listing price, all Airbnb service fees and state/local taxes are waived.
  • The hosts may decide how long they wish to list their homes for free within the program activation window (Oct. 8 - 29),