Free Airbnb Housing for Afghan Refugees


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Airbnb is stepping in to help Afghan refugees now pouring into the U.S. It’s offering free housing to 20,000 of them with the help of Airbnb hosts. The temporary lodging will be paid for by Airbnb’s non-profit arm,, along with contributions from Airbnb co-founder Brian Chesky and donations made to’s Refugee Fund. (1)

Hi, I'm Kathy Fettke and this is Real Estate News for Investors. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a review.

Airbnb has been helping disaster victims since Hurricane Sandy hit New York City in 2012. Sandy was one of the worst hurricanes in history and displaced thousands of people. At the time, an Airbnb host asked the company if she could offer her place for free to a few of the victims. The idea was well received, and Airbnb quickly coordinated an effort to get other hosts to do the same. More than 1,000 hosts helped out.

Housing Help for Disaster Victims

Since then, Airbnb says that hosts have provided temporary accommodations to more than 75,000 people, including victims and relief workers. In 2015, Airbnb helped victims of the Nepal earthquake. In 2016, it was Pulse nightclub shooting victims in Florida.

In 2017, Airbnb made its disaster housing help official with the Open Homes program. During that same year, it offered help to victims Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria, and the Mexico City earthquake. In 2018, it began helping people traveling long distances for medical treatment, and provided housing for victims of the Camp and Woolsey Wildfires in California.

In 2019, victims of the Australia bushfires received help. And in 2020, Airbnb made it possible for hosts to provide housing for COVID-19 healthcare workers and first responders. It was in December of last year that Airbnb announced the formation of the non-profit (2)

Chesky Mobilizes Help on Twitter

This year, Airbnb is mobilizing to help Afghan refugees. Brian Chesky appealed for help from hosts on Twitter. He said in a tweet on August 24th: “Starting today, Airbnb will begin housing 20,000 Afghan refugees globally for free.” He also acknowledged hosts by saying: “While we will be paying for these stays, we could not do this without the generosity of our Hosts.” He didn’t say how long Airbnb would pay for these stays. An article in Time suggested it would be one to two weeks, while housing organizations find longer-term accommodations for refugees. (3)

One of those organizations is HIAS, which stands for Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. It’s a Jewish American non-profit that was founded in 1881 to help Jewish refugees, but has evolved over time. It now provides help to refugees of all faiths and ethnicities worldwide who fear for their lives because of war, persecution, or violence. (4)

Cathryn Miller-Wilson of HIAS Pennsylvania told Time that her organization gets a stipend from the U.S. government to get refugees into housing right away. When Airbnb hosts help out, the organization can save some of that stipend and use it to pay for longer-term rentals.

Hosts Offer Homes at Charitable Rates

Airbnb bookings are made by that host organization after hosts volunteer their properties. They can offer their homes for free, or they can choose charitable rates which are paid for by Airbnb, Chesky, and the Refugee Fund. Airbnb also waives its service fee.

Time reports that Uber and Lyft are also helping refugees by donating ride credits to the International Rescue Committee or IRC. Uncommon Goods is also donating $2 each time a shopper chooses IRC when they are checking out. That money will be used to pay for other kinds of support that the refugees may need.

If you’d like to learn more about this charitable effort, look for links in the show notes at And please remember to hit the subscribe button, and leave a review!

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Thanks for listening. I'm Kathy Fettke.


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