Airbnb Opens Homes to 20,000 Afghan Refugees

In a tweet late Monday evening, Airbnb CEO and cofounder Brian Chesky called the displacement and resettlement of Afghans “one of the biggest humanitarian crises of our time.” The executive went even further, saying his company had an obligation to “step up.” As such, refugees will now be housed in properties listed on Airbnb, with funding coming from donations by Chesky and Airbnb, as well as contributions to the Refugee Fund, a $25 million program launched in June to support displaced people and asylum seekers.

It’s not clear how much Airbnb will spend on the program or how long it would cover the stays, but the company said it would “evolve the initiative and its support as necessary,” according to CNBC. Chesky encouraged Twitter users interested in hosting a refugee family to get in contact with him, saying, “I’ll connect you with the right people here to make it happen.” He added he hoped other business leaders would be inspired to step forward as well. 

Afghan refugees arrive at the Torrejón de Ardoz air base in Madrid, Spain. 

Photo: Getty Images/Europa Press News

“As tens of thousands of Afghan refugees resettle around the world, where they stay will be the first chapter in their new lives,” Chesky said later in a release. “For these 20,000 refugees, my hope is that the Airbnb community will provide them with not only a safe place to rest and start over, but also a warm welcome home.”

To date,, the room-share apps’ philanthropic arm, has arranged for stays for more than 75,000 people displaced by natural disasters—including Hurricane Sandy, earthquakes in Mexico, and the California wildfires—as well as COVID-19 frontline workers and others in emergency situations. Over the weekend, already worked with partners on the ground to place 165 refugees in safe housing shortly after they arrived in the U.S..

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky just announced his company will allow refugees to be housed in properties listed on the platform.

Photo: Getty Images/Mike Windle

David Miliband, CEO of the International Rescue Committee, praised the company for “offering their support and infrastructure to meet this moment, providing safe and welcoming places for individuals and families as they arrive in the United States and begin rebuilding their lives.” The humanitarian gesture comes as Airbnb slowly recovers from a devastating financial slump: At the start of the pandemic the company laid off a quarter of its staff and took out billions in loans.

Even after refocusing its offerings more on isolated getaways, lockdowns, quarantines, and social distancing saw listings drop more than 40 percent in some U.S. markets between May 2020 and March 2021, according to a report by Lending Tree.

Now the 13-year-old company seems to be on the rise once more: Listings are increasing and, after Airbnb went public in December 2020, it quickly became valued at $100 billion—more than the worth of Hilton, Marriott, and Intercontinental combined, NPR reported.

Information on hosting refugees and others in need is available on the site.

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