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Airbnb Offers Free Housing to Floridians Displaced by Hurricane Irma

September 15, 2017 - 3:30pm

The popular home-sharing site, Airbnb, has decided to lend a helping hand to Floridians left homeless post-Hurricane Irma, offering up rooms and entire homes to those displaced from the catastrophic storm which made landfall last weekend.

Post-Hurricane Irma, commodities like gas, electricity and air conditioning are hard to come by. 

But for some Floridians, the reality of Hurricane Irma’s destruction meant they didn’t have houses to come home to since they were flooded or destroyed when Irma hit the Sunshine State on Sunday and Monday.

Airbnb has stepped in to help, locating temporary housing for evacuees and displaced people through its Disaster Response Program.

The program offers short-term stays for people in need -- at no cost.

Working with state and local officials, Airbnb activated the Disaster Response Program last Thursday before Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys. 

Through the program, Airbnb hosts volunteer to offer up single rooms -- or in some cases, entire residences -- to people displaced by disasters at no cost. Fees and taxes are also waived, paid for by Airbnb.

People who are not affiliated with the company can also sign up to offer up their homes simply by signing up as a host on the site, whose usage has skyrocketed in recent years. 

Volunteer hosts in Florida and Georgia are eligible to participate in the program, with most of the being required to live in the northern part of the state. 

So far, 230 temporary residences have been set up across Florida.

The company said it plans to offer free lodging for displaced Floridians through the end of the month and expects the number of offered spaces to increase as more people have their electricity restored and get back online.

“This has been one of the largest responses to date for Airbnb’s Disaster Response Program,”  aid Kellie Bentz, Airbnb’s global head of disaster relief. “This number continues to grow, and is a testament to the strength of the Airbnb community-- it is literally neighbors helping neighbors, across communities and states, and it’s great to see.”

Bentz anticipated the program would grow as the state begins its lengthy recuperation efforts. 

“We know the response to disasters like Hurricane Irma doesn’t end when the storm does-- many people still need places to stay while areas recover and rebuild, and we encourage people to consider making space in their homes available to their neighbors in need,” she said. 

The idea for the free housing program began in 2012 after Hurricane Sandy devastated the Northeast. Since then, the program has been activated 90 times all over the world. 

The program is also running strong in Texas, where more than 1,000 Airbnb hosts have offered their homes up to those recovering from Hurricane Harvey, which left portions of the state -- particularly the Houston area -- entirely underwater and devastated others.

Airbnb’s Disaster Response Program will run through Sept. 28. 


Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen


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