Airbnb Partners with City of San Jose to House Potential Disaster Victims

SAN JOSE, CA—During times of crisis and disaster, Airbnb has partnered with government agencies and regional disaster relief organizations to connect Airbnb hosts with evacuees and emergency responders, free of charge. This idea took form in 2012, amidst Hurricane Sandy, when thousands of individuals and families were displaced by the disaster.

When Hurricane Sandy struck, an Airbnb host in New York reached out to Airbnb, asking if she could open her doors for free to those who needed a place to stay. This idea—members of the Airbnb community opening their doors for free to those in need—served as the catalyst to what would become a global program, known as Open Homes, connecting those who have been displaced to those with extra space. To date, the host community has donated nearly 17,000 nights around the world.

At the U.S. Conference of Mayors Annual Meeting in Boston, Airbnb’s Head of Disaster Response and Relief Kellie Bentz announced a first-of-its-kind partnership with the city of San Jose. In the coming months, Airbnb hosts and other interested members of the community can sign up to lend their space in advance of a disaster.

The pilot will include the following:

  • In-person preparedness trainings and recruitment events
  • A three-pronged digital campaign, which includes paid media, online communications and email education to the community
  • The development of a new operational protocol for communications with emergency management teams when hosts are needed
  • After the launch of the pilot in San Jose, CA, Airbnb will work to identify additional cities to join the pilot program as well