In the midst of chaos caused by President Donald Trump’s executive order, which stranded refugees, students and green card holders in American airports, Airbnb is offering housing to those affected.
The executive order was countered with legal action and protests, which allowed some of the people detained in airports to be released. But it’s still not clear how Customs and Border Protection will enforce Trump’s order, and travellers may still find themselves turned away from US-bound flights or detained upon arrival.
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky is one of many tech executives who spoke out January 28 against Trump’s refugee ban. But Chesky took his remarks one step further, offering housing to refugees and others impacted by the order. “Airbnb is providing free housing to refugees and anyone not allowed in the US,” he tweeted. “Stay tuned for more, contact me if urgent need for housing.”
An Airbnb spokesperson told TechCrunch that the company will leverage its existing disaster response program, which asks hosts to offer housing to people displaced by natural disasters and to aid workers. Airbnb says it has matched up to $1 million in donations to the UN Refugee Agency and that its disaster response program has made over 3,000 nights of free housing available to aid workers.
Hosts can sign up to offer free housing for refugees affected by the Trump administration’s executive order, and Airbnb subsidizes the cost of housing in areas where no hosts have registered to offer their spaces for free. Airbnb waives its booking fees for hosts who offer their homes to refugees and natural disaster victims. Other housing resources may be necessary — for instance, if there are no nearby hosts available — and Airbnb has said it will provide additional detail about the program in the coming days.
“Our focus is on providing housing to people who have been negatively impacted by President Trump’s executive order, particularly people who were travelling to the US and are now stranded,” a spokesperson said. “We are responding to requests from individuals who have reached out to us directly and we are also working with relief organizations to further identify people in need of temporary housing due to the travel ban.”