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Airbnb and Refugees

Apparently airbnb is working with orgs to help refugees. On the one hand, I think that’s cool. On the other, I’m a little uncomfortable that they’re slapping the airbnb brand on something where hosts literally do all the (emotional as well as physical and very unpaid) labor.

On the third hand… it’s been a long week and I may start responsibly drinking as soon as husband gets home from work. :wink:


I think it’s great Airbnb is partnering with refugee charities and supporting them financially.

However I have major concerns about asking hosts with no training or expertise to host refugees who are likely to be severely traumatised.

They would be much better putting hosts in touch with local refugee organisations that run short term housing schemes, where they could receive the right support and training also be vetted. For example in the UK we have DRB checks where people have criminal record and other checks to ensure they are suitable to work with vulnerable people. (I say this as someone who provides emergency accommodation for young refugees through a local charity).


We hosted a young family from Afganidtan this past winter under this program. We were contacted by Airbnb to see if we were amenable to hosting them, then their social workers took care of the reservation, their transportation, groceries, etc., and visited them throughout the six days they were with us – until permanent housing arrangements had been sorted out for them. We were paid our full rate, and while we offered some support to this family we don’t normally offer other guests, we were under no obligation to do so. Their case workers were really in top of things and they had a whole crew of folks working with them. So, I’m not sure the concern about hosts having to play some kind if case worker role is guaranted. Participation in the program is completely optional, plus its basically a booking like many others so it’s not like one can take much credit for opening one’s listing to these refugees. I’ve had “regular” guests who were much more work that these family.


Yes! You are a wise woman! :slight_smile:

As for the refugee issue with Airbnb, I’m too lazy to read the article, but if they really want to be an ambassador of good will, they should pay the amount the refugee guest would be charged and credit it to our account.


Ok @Romaga - so this is not a programme where hosts open their homes to refugees and offer them support along with accommodation, but rather the normal commercial arrangement like any other host/guest relationship.

Where are you based by the way @Romaga - I know hosts in the UK who have offered, but not had any contact from Airbnb - surprising when we have thousands of vulnerable refugees here with nowhere to live and no income.

The reason I mentioned the vetting process, is that unfortunately there are some opportunistic predators out there, who capitalise on the vulnerabilities of others and unfortunately this sometimes happens in a hosting situation where the vulnerable child or adult is dependent on the host.

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@Helsi, we are in the US, in the NYC/NJ metro region.

As far as vetting goes, the refugee family we hosted went through several months/years of vetting by the U.S. before they could set foot in this country. I agree that there are many people in the world in desperate situations seeking political asylum/refugee status, but, at least in the US, the program seems to apply only to those who’ve made it through the red tape

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Thanks for the additional info @Romaga . Sorry when I was talking about vetting I was actually referring to hosts not refugees who are normally vetted through the charities working with them.

Thank you! It really wasn’t clear from what I read. The way you describe the program, it sounds much better than I feared.


This is the charity I host with - it’s for young people but increasing this includes asylum seekers and refugees.


I don’t blame you for being unsure about the program because the ad on the link you attached sure didn’t explain any of it that way. I recall when they had all the flooding in the South and a couple other natural disasters, Air stepped in and encouraged hosts to offer up their places…gratis, so I thought the same as you about the refugee situation.


I would rather focus on the people that need help than the corporation. Let alone, you do not hear many corporations that are doing anything. So I at least applaud them for putting themselves out there. Especially on a controversial issue.

In terms of vetting, the meeting I went to, they said that the waitlist alone is 1.5 ro 2 years and you are matched. So its not like you are going to get just some random person. But someone that matches your background etc.

We signed up to host a refugee family for a dinner. As that was an alternative.


I signed up yesterday. It’s not only for refugees but for evacuees and relief workers. If there’s another major hurricane in our area, it would be good to think that we can help people in need.


But what are they actually doing? The host is the one offering the accommodation.


Really? Do you know how much effort it takes to create programming to connect the platform with the agencies for the vetting? Do you know how long that takes and how much programming is involved since this is a global scale. That is what they are doing. I work in Hi Tech. Its not easy nor something that happens overnight and takes lots of programmers and QA to make it happen.

This is not the case when Airbnb recruits hosts during hurricanes, etc.

Ok, agreed… a lot of programming is probably needed. But programming is also needed for all functions of their site. I agree with the OP when she says they take the credit when the host is offering the free accommodation. This is the case with hurricanes and other natural emergencies.

I work in advertising and marketing. They need to restate what they offer because right now it sounds like they offer everything. And they don’t.

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To be fair, and this is just my own observation, everything I have read on the Airbnb site clearly says that hosts donate their accommodation. (And that Airbnb don’t charge any fees).

I’m wondering if it’s mass media that says things such as ‘Airbnb has an initiative to help displaced people’? Most of what the media write about Airbnb is BS. If you have the word ‘Airbnb’ in a headline, whether it be a website or print media, it’s going to get attention.

‘Hosts donate accommodation’ doesn’t bring in the hits. :slight_smile:


Also to be fair about the emergency services for fire flood etc disasters, Airbnb was footing 50% and the host was footing the other 50%.

Also Airbnb has or is committed to donating 4 million to the cause. FYI. So it’s not like they aren’t doing anything. What is VRBO doing? Booking.com? Etc.

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Not true. When we had the hurricane visit here and one threaten, Air contacted all of us asking for us to donate accommodations for the displaced. Then they were covered on the evening news as “providing accommodations to the displaced.” And the service fees would be waived. Say what? On a free booking the service fee would be waived. Thank you!

I don’t have anything against Air wanting to help, but come on, if I am housing the displaced and giving up income, who is doing the helping?

Why are you being so combative?


Just tired of people hating on a corporation that is trying to do something good and people bashing it. I don’t see many other corporations doing it. In addition, you have zero insight as to how much money they didn’t and man power developing these tools.

I choose to look at the problem of refugees and doing good vs looking at it the way you are looking at it. It’s terrible. Imho.

Not to mention you fail to even recognize the 4 million over 5 years that they are contributing. They are doing something in addition to their tool development.

And what are any of the 50+ platforms doing? There are no pleasing people here. But if Airbnb did nothing then you would complain about that. Imho. It’s time to focus on good and do good. Even if it doesn’t live up to your level of criticism. And if it doesn’t, then feel free to do something to help the refugees on the same scale as Airbnb and then you will discover what they have gone is of benefit to human kind.

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