TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The coronavirus pandemic and other natural disasters have affected millions of Americans and now the owners of Airbnb homes are opening their doors for those who need it.
The company started Airbnb.org to help facilitate the process. The non-profit has been in the works for nearly 8 years.
Kristen Berlacher runs the non-profit and she says the program is growing. So far over 100,000 homeowners in the united states and around the world have offered up a free place to host 75,000 people who needed help and 300 of them are in Arizona. They also partner with other non-profits to find hot spots.
"It started with a single host in New York City after Hurricane Sandy. We work with local governments to understand the needs on the ground and then we partner directly with our host community to see if they are willing and able to offer their homes for free or at a discount,” Berlacher said.
It’s especially important for healthcare workers who can’t be at home with their loved ones. Guests can stay anywhere from 2 weeks to a month depending on availability and the agreement made with the host. The non-profit is hoping to get more owners to open their doors.
“Hosts agree to a number of enhanced cleaning protocols. One thing that’s really neat about this program is that you really don’t have to be a regular Airbnb host. So, anyone who has extra space that they are willing to open can go to Airbnb.org to sign up. Because of COVID, right now we are limiting stays to entire homes or apartments only,” Berlacher said.
The organization is also working on expanding funding to cover stays for frontline workers as hotspots are identified. For those interested in participating as a host or occupant, there is an application process to qualify.
"For folks that have that extra space and would like to get involved this is a really unique way for people to have an impact and to give back,” Berlacher said.