Need to Know
- Airbnb announced it will be providing free or subsidized accommodation to medical workers worldwide.
- Up to 100,000 hosts around the world can opt in to provide free housing for healthcare professionals, first responders, and relief workers during the COVID-19 crisis.
- As the crisis continues on, many doctors and nurses are taking extreme measures to prevent bringing the disease home to their families.
Airbnb announced in a press release today that it will provide free or subsidized accommodation to medical workers. This new global initiative will allow healthcare professionals, first responders, and relief workers with clean, safe housing that is closer to where they work.
Hosts on the Airbnb platform can opt in to make their space available for medical workers who use it, and will be required to follow new cleanliness protocols to keep their guests safe. Airbnb hopes to house 100,000 workers around the world with waived fees during the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.
“Medical workers and first responders are providing lifesaving support during the coronavirus outbreak and we want to help,” says Airbnb’s Co-founder Joe Gebbia. “We’ve heard from countless hosts around the world who want to provide a comforting home to heroic first responders. We are connecting our nonprofit partners, government agencies and others with our incredible host community to work together in these extraordinary times.”
The program began as a trial in France and Italy, with over 6,000 hosts offering up their spaces for free. After a number of additional hosts around the world began to request information on how they can volunteer to support their community during this challenging time, Airbnb expanded the program to the rest of the world.
As the COVID-19 crisis continues to ravage the world, a number of doctors and other healthcare workers have taken to the news or social media to describe their precarious living conditions.
In a detailed Twitter thread, Manhattan doctor Craig Spencer describes “stripping in the hallway” and avoiding his toddler daughter until he can shower, so as to prevent the spread of the disease to his family. Seattle doctor Stephen Anderson’s wife has moved to the family’s mountain cabin so her husband can have the home to himself. Georgia doctor Michelle Au is sleeping in her home’s basement, and her children are given strict instructions not to use the same bathroom as her or to touch her things.
As such, some doctors have discussed “bunking up” in Airbnbs to create “dirty doc” living quarters to avoid exposing their families at home. Now, their idea is coming to life.
“As medical and relief workers require accommodation for response and preparedness, the Airbnb community is in a unique position to help,” says renowned epidemiologist Dr. Larry Brilliant. “I applaud Airbnb for working under conditions of such uncertainty to provide housing for first responders and medical staff working in this pandemic.”
Airbnb will also partner up with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Rescue Committee, International Medical Corps and other nonprofit organizations to help support relief workers during the pandemic.