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Airbnb and the city of Seattle team up to offer lodging during natural disasters

Airbnb could soon be more involved in cases of emergency in one Northwest city. The company is partnering with the deputy mayor’s office in Seattle to help provide accommodations for residents displaced by a natural disaster.

The move is certainly an interesting one, and should be very helpful if a disaster does strike the area. According to the company, the initiative came about after 1,400 Airbnb hosts opened up their doors during Superstorm Sandy, helping those in need during a time of crisis.

The initiative will be largely organized by Airbnb. For example, the company will make all bookings in the Seattle region fee-free. Not only that, but it will reach out to hosts in the area to ask if they’re willing to help. The company will then provide disaster relief information to those who need it during the actual disaster.

It’s possible that the initiative is aimed at easing tensions between Airbnb and the Seattle government. There is an ongoing dispute between the two due to regulations that would limit hosts who are offering short-term rentals. According to the city, however, Airbnb is compliant and is an active part of discussions, and it doesn’t seem like there’s any serious tension between the two sides, at least if the new announcement is anything to go by.

Airbnb has also been having some trouble outside of Seattle. The company has been dealt a huge blow in New York City. A new regulation essentially fines hosts who offer their apartment rental for less than 30 days. It’s aimed at preventing hosts from turning their apartment into a hotel without having to pay taxes. Airbnb, however, claims that most of its hosts offer their apartments once per month at most.