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Airbnb Helps Neighbors Help Neighbors After Disasters

A view of the eye of Hurricane Michael taken on Oct. 10, 2018 from the International Space Station currently orbiting Earth. The photo was taken by astronaut Dr. Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor, who began working with NASA as a Flight Surgeon in 2006. In 2009, she was selected as a NASA astronaut. Credit: NASA

Airbnb is taking the saying “neighbors helping neighbors” to the next level with its Open Homes program.

The program gives host the option to list their Airbnb’s free of charge to residents whose homes were damaged during Hurricane Michael.

Hosts in the northern part of Florida – including Osceola and Brevard County – can participate. The program has also expanded its zones to Mississippi, the Carolinas, and Georgia.

Airbnb’s Head of Social Impact and Philanthropy Kim Rubey said there are over 800 hosts signed up to open their homes for free.

“You wouldn’t believe how many generous and big-hearted people there are in communities all over the world. They are always asking us for ways that they can help people,” she said.

“When you see the images on TV of how devastating the damage is, you feel a little helpless and don’t think you can make a difference, but in reality if you have extra space you could be providing someone exactly what they need in their darkest hour.”

The program was initially created for evacuees to find shelter but now has expanded to help emergency relief workers too.

“We know that this is going to be a really expensive rebuilding effort and the people with extra space who are able to offer it for free to the relief workers or people who aren’t able to go back to their home will be helping the revitalization effort in a major way,” she said.

Airbnb plans to continue to activate the program as evacuation orders are issued and after severe events. Rubey said Airbnb coordinates with officials to determine where the need is the greatest.

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