More than 900 hosts on Airbnb have opened their homes at no cost to people in northern California fleeing the devastating wildfires or working in relief efforts.
“Our hosts asked us to create a way for them to be seen as a resource by those in need, and we have,” the company said on its website. “When the tool is activated, Airbnb automatically contacts hosts in the impacted and surrounding areas asking if they have extra space to share with their displaced neighbors. Hosts who respond choose to list their spaces free of charge, and Airbnb waives all booking fees.”
The program went into effect earlier this month as the fires spread rapidly. Airbnb expanded the program Tuesday to the city of Santa Rosa and said the free stays would be available until Oct. 30.
Tens of thousands of people have been displaced either temporarily or permanently, and more than 5,700 homes and businesses have been destroyed as the blazes continue to spread. Firefighters have made progress in containing some of the fires ― the 36,432-acre Tubbs Fire is 87 percent contained, for example ― but new ones have sprung up in recent days.
It’s not the first time Airbnb hosts have opened their doors for free. The company created a platform earlier this year to help refugees and others uprooted by natural disasters find temporary housing by connecting them with relief organizations.
Airbnb’s move has sparked a trend across the San Francisco Bay Area. Hotels have lowered prices for evacuees. Some museums announced free admission. Verizon (HuffPost’s parent company) offered discounts on phone minutes and data usage, NBC Bay Area reported.