This morning, Airbnb announced a lofty goal: to help 100,000 medical personnel fighting COVID-19 find free or discounted housing closer to their hospitals and healthcare centers. Partnering with the Red Cross, the International Rescue Committee, and the International Medical Corps, each home offered will follow extreme cleanliness protocols and, if its guest contracts or is exposed to the virus, include the option to automatically extend the reservation to heal or self-isolate.
“Medical workers and first responders are providing lifesaving support during the coronavirus outbreak and we want to help,” Airbnb’s 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.”
The initiative was launched after a successful pilot program in France. After Airbnb put out a call to action, 4,000 hosts have offered up their homes to doctors and first responders since Tuesday. (Many are waiving fees on their own behalf, but if someone wants to volunteer their space but cannot do so without payment, Airbnb will waive all fees for them.)
Hosts can list their homes through Airbnb’s Open Homes platform, which was started in 2012 to help with housing for those affected by emergencies, disasters, and illnesses. (Even if you aren’t a host, you can still donate to support the stays of doctors, nurses, and other first responders.)
While nearly every business has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, hospitality, in particular, has been upended due to the sudden pause in travel. In New York City alone, hotel occupancy is reported to be down by as much 80 percent. With no guests, some hotels and hospitality groups are opening their doors to an in-need clientele: medical service workers.
Yesterday, Governor Cuomo tweeted that the Four Seasons Hotel on New York’s 57th Street will offer free lodging to healthcare workers.
“The first of many hotels we hope will make their rooms available,” the Governor said, indicating that the New York government is looking for more city properties to follow suit.