Airbnb to provide free housing to COVID-19 responders

Airbnb has announced a new worldwide initiative that aims to offer safe and accessible housing, free of charge, to healthcare workers currently battling the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

As indicated in the company’s official website, the overall objective is to provide free, temporary convenient accommodations for more than 100,000 coronavirus first responders, relief workers, and healthcare professionals across the globe, or more specifically, wherever an Airbnb host is available nearby.

The host community giving back

Airbnb currently has a massive host community extending to just about every continent, country, and city in the world.

It appears that the company has received feedback from the hosts themselves who want to help healthcare workers and first responders who are risking their lives to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Joe Gebbia, the co-founder of Airbnb, said as much in the announcement: 

“Medical workers and first responders are providing lifesaving support during the coronavirus outbreak and we want to help. 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.”

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Building on earlier successful pilot programs

Airbnb had previously launched a couple of pilot programs in Italy and France, two countries that are experiencing a significant number of cases of infections until now. 

Through those pilot programs, the company was able to call upon its Italian and French host communities to provide housing for doctors, nurses, and other medical and healthcare personnel. 

Close to 6,000 Airbnb hosts had responded and had already offered free accommodations. Now Airbnb is clearly looking forward to replicating the program on a more global scale.

Heightening hosting protocols

It goes without saying that offering free housing for medical professionals, especially those battling a highly contagious virus, requires a more strict set of safety standards for the Airbnb hosts to follow.

According to Airbnb, it has already started working closely with leading experts and officials in order to implement special guidelines for Airbnb hosts who offer their homes for medical workers. 

The said new protocol will be expanded in order to include additional standards set not only by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but also other requirements dictated by local and national authorities. 

Some of the adjusted requirements will include social distancing with guests, enhanced cleaning of the homes, and allowing a full three-day period in between stays.

On top of this, the guests who will be staying will also be briefed thoroughly with regard to the new standards set in place.

Joining other global tech brands in the fight

Airbnb is not the only global tech brand taking a proactive approach to helping the fight against the pandemic.

Social media giant Facebook has already pledged a US$100 million [AU$172 million] grant to qualified small businesses and other initiatives.

Tesla has already announced that it is willing to manufacture ventilators for the cause.

Meanwhile, Amazon and Instacart have boosted their workforce in order to allow their respective customers to keep staying at home. 

Featured images courtesy of Airbnb

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