Airbnb has sent its officials to the White House to talk with the American government about offering disaster support.
The app will be used in times of disaster to find and offer shelter for those in need. Currently Airbnb is used as an app that allows property owners to rent a room or entire house to holidaymakers for set periods of time.
The government has obviously spotted the potential for good that the app, which registers many unused properties in the US, can do. This comes after Airbnb hosts offered their homes during previous disasters.
In a disaster Airbnb hosts are contacted, they are then able to offer shelter without charges, to those in need.
Airbnb will partner with San Francisco and Portland to "pre-identify and activate Airbnb hosts who will commit to opening their doors to displaced persons and disaster service workers when an emergency occurs."
It will also "provide disaster and emergency preparedness educational materials to Airbnb hosts to help them become the most prepared residents on the block." It will "use Airbnb mobile and web technology to notify hosts and guests about significant hazardous incidents." Finally it will "facilitate community emergency response trainings to cultivate Airbnb hosts as trained leaders within their neighbourhoods."
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. "This new partnership with Airbnb ensures greater access to important emergency preparedness information and facilitates temporary housing needs for our City’s residents, should the need arise during an emergency or disaster."
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said "When Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast, 1,400 Airbnb hosts in New York opened doors and cooked meals for those left stranded. We were inspired by these stories to build a disaster response initiative with our community. Today’s announcement is an exciting next step forward in this commitment."
Airbnb Disaster Response can be used to offer fee-free shelter worldwide.