Airbnb and Airbnb.org announced on Tuesday that they will temporarily house 20,000 Afghan refugees for free. The effort, an evolution of the home renting platform’s “Frontline stays” program for housing first responders, is in response to the refugee crisis caused by the US military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s takeover of the country.
“It has become abundantly clear that the displacement and resettlement of Afghan refugees here in the United States and elsewhere is a significant humanitarian crisis – and in the face of this need, our community is ready to once again step up,” the company wrote in its announcement. This is of course dependent on Airbnb’s existing hosts agreeing to help out. In a tweet thread announcing the plan, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky put out a call for Airbnb hosts interested in housing Afghan families on Twitter.
For participating hosts and homes, the free refugee housing will be available globally, paid for by Airbnb, Airbnb.org (Airbnb’s nonprofit counterpart), Chesky, and donors from the Airbnb.org Refugee Fund. Airbnb didn’t offer a specific timeline for how long the program will last, but the company tells The Verge “we are planning to support the 20,000 refugees for as long as is needed.”
Other companies have also made attempts to alleviate some of the harm caused by the US exit from Afghanistan. Facebook and Clubhouse have taken steps to secure accounts by hiding friends lists and removing personal info. The US Department of Defense has also called on airline companies to help with further evacuations from Afghanistan.