Update, 9/24/21, 10:00 a.m. ET: Airbnb announced on September 23 that it is able to provide free temporary housing to an additional 20,000 Afghan refugees, bringing the total to 40,000.
Airbnb has announced plans to provide 20,000 Afghan refugees with free temporary housing in hosts’ rentals through its charitable nonprofit, Airbnb.org.
“The displacement and resettlement of Afghan refugees in the U.S. and elsewhere is one of the biggest humanitarian crises of our time,” Brian Chesky, CEO of the online rental platform, wrote on Twitter. “We feel a responsibility to step up.”
The challenge: In 2001, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, forcing the Taliban out of power. With the last U.S. troops now exiting the nation, the militant group has once again seized control.
Airbnb has already placed 165 Afghan refugees in U.S. rentals.
That’s left tens of thousands of people desperate to leave Afghanistan — some fear retaliation for helping the U.S., while others are women and girls afraid they’ll be oppressed or forced into sex slavery under Taliban rule. Others simply want to live in a free, democratic country.
The U.S., its allies, and private organizations are working to evacuate people, but that’s just the first step — Afghan refugees must also find new homes.
Free temporary housing: In 2012, Airbnb started helping hosts provide their rentals to people displaced by Hurricane Sandy for free. The following year, it launched a tool that made it easy for hosts around the world to do the same for people involved in other disasters.
Airbnb soon expanded the program to include refugees displaced by conflict or political unrest, and in 2020, it announced the launch of Airbnb.org, a nonprofit that would use its funds to help house people in need.
“As a nonprofit, Airbnb.org will scale its impact and fund stays through private donations from individuals and institutions,” the company wrote. “All funds raised through Airbnb.org will go towards covering the cost of stays for those in need.”
Helping Afghan refugees: Airbnb says it has helped about 25,000 refugees find temporary housing over the past four years, and now, it plans to do the same for 20,000 Afghan refugees.
“For these 20,000 refugees, my hope is that the Airbnb community will provide them with not only a safe place to rest and start over, but also a warm welcome home,” Chesky said in a news release.
The company didn’t say how long the refugees will stay in the Airbnb rentals, but did note that hosts are offering both short- and long-term housing. It also said that 165 Afghan refugees have already been placed in U.S. rentals.
We’d love to hear from you! If you have a comment about this article or if you have a tip for a future Freethink story, please email us at [email protected].