Airbnb Will Help Provide Housing for 100,000 Workers on Frontlines of Coronavirus Fight

Plus, others in the hospitality industry who are stepping up, despite being some of the hardest hit financially by the crisis

Photo: Airbnb

Airbnb is giving back to healthcare workers and first responders around the world during the coronavirus pandemic.

The company announced a new initiative on Thursday, which aims to provide free or subsidized housing for 100,000 workers who are working on the frontlines fighting the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Airbnb hosts will be able to participate in the program through Airbnb’s Open Homes platform, and if a homeowner is unable to commit to hosting for free, the company will waive all fees. Hosts will also be able to opt into adopting new cleanliness protocols, which were developed alongside health experts and officials.

The new program builds upon two pilot programs in Italy and France, which nearly 6,000 hosts have participated in so far.

“Medical workers and first responders are providing lifesaving support during the coronavirus outbreak and we want to help,” Airbnb Co-founder Joe Gebbia said in a press release. “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.”

Co-founder Brian Cheskey shared on Twitter on Thursday afternoon that 12,000 hosts had already answered the call.

Airbnb has previously leveraged its inventory of homes and the goodwill of its hosts to provide housing during natural disasters like Hurricane Florence in 2018. The Open Homes program originated in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Others in the hospitality business — one of the industries hit hardest by cancellations due to coronavirus — have also stepped in to lend a hand.

The Four Seasons Hotel in Manhattan will also be opening its rooms for health care workers.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose state is currently one of the epicenters of the pandemic, announced on Wednesday that the luxury hotel will “provide FREE lodging to doctors, nurses & medical personnel currently working to respond to the #COVID19 pandemic.”

The Four Seasons Hotel on 57th Street
Google Maps

Additionally, earlier this week, the American Hotel and Lodging Association announced their Hotels for Hope initiative, which will open up thousands of hotel properties in close proximity to hospitals and healthcare facilities across the country to provide temporary lodging to healthcare workers and first responders.

“As an industry of people taking care of people, the hotel industry is uniquely positioned to support and help strengthen our communities and first responders who are on the frontlines of dealing with this ongoing public health crisis,” Chip Rogers, AHLA president and CEO, said in a press release. “Hotels have always been an active member of our local communities, and this time is no different.”

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“The number of hotels wanting to be part of the program is growing by the hour,” added Michael Jacobson, CEO and president of the Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association. “Our hotels are answering the call to action, and they want to be helpful to the city and the state.”

As of Thursday, there are more than 68,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States and at least 1,000 deaths from coronavirus-related illness. Globally, there are now 463,751 confirmed cases and 21,100 deaths.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.

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