As communities around the world grapple with the devastating impacts of natural disasters and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Airbnb.org, an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, has dedicated itself to facilitating temporary stays for people in times of crisis. Recently, Kristen Berlacher, the Head of Airbnb.org Programs, teamed with YourUpdateTV on a satellite media tour to discuss the important initiative.
A video accompanying this announcement is available at: https://youtu.be/yg0u4NmpGDg
The inspiration for Airbnb.org began in 2012 with a single host named Shell who opened up her home to people impacted by Hurricane Sandy. This sparked a movement and marked the beginning of a program that allows hosts on Airbnb to provide stays for people in times of need.
Since then, the program has evolved to focus on emergency response and to help provide stays to evacuees, relief workers, refugees and asylum seekers, and most recently, frontline workers fighting the spread of COVID-19. From Australia to France, more than 100,000 hosts have offered to open up their homes and helped provide accommodations to 75,000 people in times of need. Going forward, Airbnb’s Open Homes and Frontline Stays programs will now be called Airbnb.org.
Airbnb.org’s initial commitments include $2 million to support expanded partnerships with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE). Over the next two years, Airbnb.org will commit $1 million to cover stays for IFRC staff and volunteers supporting communities worldwide hit by COVID-19 and other humanitarian disasters. CORE will utilize Airbnb.org’s $1 million contribution to fund stays for frontline workers administering free COVID-19 tests, conducting contact tracing, providing flu shots and coordinating quarantine support resources in ten cities across the U.S. with the opportunity to launch in new cities as hotspots arise. When a vaccine becomes available, CORE will also use Airbnb.org funding to house relief workers traveling to vaccine distribution centers.
How it works
Airbnb.org will allow hosts on Airbnb to provide free and discounted stays to people impacted by emergencies, including natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic. These stays, which provide alternative accommodation and shelter options, are especially helpful to government and nonprofit partners in a year where the COVID-19 pandemic has made housing vulnerable people in traditional congregate shelters extremely challenging.
Hosts who support Airbnb.org by offering free stays or making recurring donations will receive a special badge on their profile to recognize their generosity and commitment to communities in need.
To ensure community donations go further towards helping house people in times of crisis, Airbnb has pledged 400,000 shares of Airbnb stock to support the organization’s emergency response, natural disaster response and refugee programs. Airbnb co-founders Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia and Nate Blecharczyk are committing $6 million to support partners and impacted communities. In addition, Airbnb will continue to provide ongoing operational support for Airbnb.org.
Anyone who finds joy in helping others, who believes in kindness and is interested in helping by opening their homes or donating to this cause, can learn more at airbnb.org.
About Kristen Berlacher:
As Head of Airbnb.org Programs, Kristen leads a global team that supports the organization’s efforts to help people impacted by natural disasters, refugees and frontline responders fighting the spread of COVID-19. With a background in both corporate philanthropy and nonprofit management, Kristen oversees strategic partnerships, program operations and product integration with the goal of leveraging Airbnb’s unique assets to provide innovative housing solutions and livelihoods opportunities for vulnerable populations around the globe. Prior to Airbnb, Kristen led Hyatt Hotel Corporation’s global philanthropy programs focused on economic empowerment, disaster response and employee volunteerism. Before Hyatt, Kristen served as interim Executive Director for Working in the Schools, a nonprofit focused on literacy programming for vulnerable youth. Kristen holds a BA in Leadership Studies from the University of Richmond, VA.
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