The recent wildfires in California have devastated communities, taken lives, and left many of those affected in a deep state of shock.
The tragedy has also left many people without a home to return to or forced them from their neighborhoods, prompting Airbnb to activate its Open Homes program that offers free accommodation for displaced residents, as well as for people assisting with relief efforts.
Airbnb is now adding free housing listings for people affected by the Hill and Woolsey fires near Los Angeles and the Camp fire in northern California, with rooms available through November 29.
To find free accommodation near the affected areas, you first have to create an Airbnb account or log into your existing account. After that, it’s possible to search $0 listings by clicking “find shelter” on a disaster-response page. For those displaced by the Hill and Woolsey fires, click here to search a map for $0 rooms. For those affected by the Camp fire, click here.
Any miscreants considering trying to score free accommodation when they don’t need it should take note. The booking site has systems in place designed to prevent such behavior, and anyone found to be taking advantage of the situation will be ordered to leave the property at once.
Current data on Airbnb’s site reveals that around 2,200 hosts in the areas above have so far signed up to offer free shelter for those who need it.
Other tech firms are also providing assistance for the relief effort. Google, for example, is customizing its web tools for features such as Crisis Maps to help the authorities quickly gather relevant information, while Facebook has created Crisis Response pages to help those affected maintain contact. Apple and Microsoft are also looking at ways to help, and like both Google and Facebook, are donating cash to organizations that are helping evacuees.
Airbnb launched its Open Homes program in 2012 in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and has put it into action many times since. Before this week, another recent activation was prompted by Hurricane Florence, which barreled into the East Coast of the U.S. in September, forcing many people to seek shelter before it made landfall.
When the Open Homes tool is activated in the wake of a disaster, Airbnb automatically makes contact with hosts close to the affected area to see if they have any means to accommodate those affected. Hosts who are able to help then have their spaces listed free of charge, with Airbnb waiving all booking fees.