Airbnb announced that it will provide free or subsidised accommodation for up to 100,000 healthcare professionals and frontline workers around the world responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The initiative is designed to provide frontline workers who have had to move out of their homes to protect family members and those moving back home from abroad to help their local communities, with safe homes, typically close to where they work. Airbnb hosts are invited to opt-in by providing entire homes that meet new cleaning and safety protocols through Airbnb's Open Homes platform, which provides free housing in disaster-ridden areas. Airbnb said it will waive its usual fees and subsidise charges if hosts can't provide accommodation for free.
To help people find housing through the platform, Airbnb has partnered with government agencies, businesses and nonprofits including the Red Cross and the International Medical Corps. The company said it was also establishing a fund for those who want to make donations, with 100% of all proceeds going to non-profits working on COVID-19 relief.
"Medical workers and first responders are providing lifesaving support during the coronavirus outbreak and we want to help," Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia said. "We've heard from countless hosts around the world who want to provide a comforting home to heroic first responders."
Airbnb co-founder and chief executive Brian Chesky tweeted that 12,000 hosts signed up to the initiative within six hours of the new platform going live on Thursday. The initiative expands on pilot programs in Italy and France, where nearly 6000 hosts have already offered their homes for free, according to a statement.