Airbnb launched a new program on Thursday that its CEO calls "free" housing for first-aiders dealing with the COVID 19 outbreak. The program encourages the hosts – the people who actually own the property booked through the Airbnb platform – to donate the rental without a refund from the company and appear to be bearing the costs of complying with CDC's recommended cleaning protocols. The aim is to offer accommodation to 100,000 first aiders, the company says.
As of 3:30 p.m. ET, CEO Brian Chesky tweeted that 12,000 hosts had "opened their homes" as part of the program.
Update: 12,000 hosts have now opened their homes for COVID-19 responders. Thank you very much, host.
– Brian Chesky (@bchesky) March 26, 2020
First responders looking for accommodation – either to be closer to their work or to stay away from work. Families who have COVID-19- Treating patients or interacting with them can connect to hosts who make their properties available through a new portal set up by the company. According to Airbnb, the new initiative is based on pilot programs in France and Italy, in which 6,000 hosts have offered their homes to doctors, nurses, nurses and other medical staff.
The program is an extension of Airbnb's Open Homes program, which was established in 2012, with which hosts can offer free accommodation in emergency situations. Airbnb waives service fees for these transactions. Hosts don't have to offer their properties for free, but all fees are waived by Airbnb.
Chris Lehane, senior vice president of global politics at Airbnb, said in an email to The Verge The company expects tens of thousands of hosts to open their homes. "We invested $ 20 million in the Open Homes program last year alone, including grants and travel allowances for nonprofits, to fund free temporary housing for people in need, as well as operating costs," he said.
Donations to the Open Homes Fund are now being paid to “partner organizations,” including the International Rescue Committee, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and the International Medical Corps. The donations will "help helpers get even more stays during their critical work".
Airbnb has created a "robust list of cleaning and security protocols" for hosts participating in the new program. According to the company, only complete – not shared – lists are allowed.
Airbnb declined to say this We wanted to help the hosts to cover the costs of cleaning their properties in accordance with the CDC guidelines. A spokesman said in an email to The Verge that “Airbnb contributes to nonprofit partners and by waiving all associated fees for at least 100,000 stays, is also in kind in the millions. In essence, any money that Airbnb would have earned on both sides as part of these transactions is waived. "
The spokesman said, in addition to the usual fee exemptions offered under the Open Homes program," Fees for other COVID-19 responder stays are currently also waived. For paid stays in the program, such as those booked by medical organizations, hosts can continue to charge their own fees, including cleaning fees. “
Reuters reported on Wednesday that Airbnb had sales of $ 4.8 billion in 2019, and it did so with positive cash flow. According to Reuters the company has $ 3 billion in cash.
In the meantime, Airbnb hosts are reported to have difficulty booking their properties after the company announced it would offer refunds to guests who cancel reservations by March 14 through April 14. The company did not offer a refund to hosts under this new policy.
The company said that under the $ 2 trillion stimulus package passed by the Senate on Wednesday, hosts diagnosed with COVID-19 or whose family members are diagnosed would be eligible for unemployment insurance. Reuters reports. Some Airbnb hosts may be eligible for the small business loan included in the stimulus package to cover property costs such as utilities and mortgage interest, and to pay independent contractors that they may use to clean or manage their properties, Airbnb told Reuters ].