Airbnb to offer housing to 100,000 crisis responders

San Francisco (AFP) –


Airbnb said Thursday it would provide free or subsidized housing for up to 100,000 relief workers responding to the coronavirus pandemic around the world.

The home-sharing platform said it would subsidize the stays for health professionals and other emergency responders to enable them to live closer to their work locations.

The move is being made in cooperation with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Rescue Committee, International Medical Corps and other nonprofit organizations, Airbnb said in a statement.

Chief executive Brian Chesky tweeted that Airbnb hosts may opt in to offer homes that respect safety and cleanliness protocols.

The company -- which is expected to see a massive hit from the pandemic -- asked its hosts to offer housing for free, and also said it would be waiving all its fees.

"We started with pilots in Italy and France, and nearly 6,000 heroic hosts have already signed up," Chesky wrote.

"Today we are expanding accommodations for COVID-19 responders globally."

One of the largest "sharing economy" platforms, Airbnb had been planning a share offering this year before the pandemic hit, with its valuation estimated as high as $35 billion.

Airbnb said it has developed a protocol for hosts who support this collective health effort by incorporating guidelines from local and national authorities and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In some cases, this will mean the listing of entire homes with enhanced cleaning, or allowing 72 hours between stays, the San Francisco company said.