Coronavirus: Airbnb to help provide emergency housing to 100,000 frontline responders

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco based Airbnb is rolling out a new effort to help provide housing to medical helpers at the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic response.

Airbnb announced its new global initiative Thursday in partnership with its hosts, the Red Cross and other nonprofit organizations.

The company says it wants to "connect 100,000 healthcare providers, relief workers, and first responders with clean, convenient places to stay that allow them to be close to their patients - and safely distanced from their own families. We may be apart, but we'll get through this together," Airbnb said in a statement."

Here's how it works: Airbnb hosts who want to help can now open their homes for free through Airbnb's Open Homes platform. The company says it was created in 2012 to meet the needs of people requiring emergency housing.

"If hosts are not able to host for free, Airbnb will still waive all fees on the stay," the company said.

Airbnb hosts must also meet a number of safety requirements including new cleanliness guidelines based on recommendations from medical experts, and allowing 72 hours between stays.

The plan builds on two pilot programs in Italy and France where doctors, nurses, caregivers and other medical support staff who are responding to the outbreak can access free accommodation through Airbnb, according to the company.

Airbnb has also launched a donation effort to help relief workers.

"Medical workers and first responders are providing lifesaving support during the coronavirus outbreak and we want to help," said 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."
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