Airbnb announced on Tuesday that it plans to accommodate 20,000 refugees after hitting its previous goal of finding places for 21,300 asylum seekers from Afghanistan.
Airbnb hosts, who use the site to rent out rooms or entire homes to travelers, were asked by the company last August to offer spaces for free or at a steep discount to Afghan refugees. More than 7,000 hosts ultimately made good on the offer, with others offering donations as well. Airbnb, which is based in San Francisco, ultimately housed 35% of all Afghan refugees in the US, relocating them to major cities like Atlanta, Georgia and Sacramento, California.
Refugees arriving in the US from Afghanistan are initially brought to a military base, with a resettlement agency working to find them proper homes in communities. Airbnb helps by providing available bookings for free or at a low rate, which is paid by donors.
More than a dozen organizations, including Women for Afghan Women and International Rescue Committee, have worked with Airbnb on the plan as activists have rushed to find temporary housing for Afghan refugees since US troops swiftly left the country after 20 years last fall and the Taliban retook control.
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky previously called the “displacement and resettlement” of Afghan refugees in and outside of the US “one of the biggest humanitarian crises of our time.”
The US admitted over 70,000 Afghan refugees as part of Operation Allies Welcome, but there have been numerous complaints about people struggling to be removed from the country and obtain visas, some of whom have even had to continue hiding from the Taliban while they wait.