As Refugee Crisis Continues, New Technology Connects People in Need with People of Goodwill
TORONTO, June 7, 2017 /CNW/ - Airbnb, the world's leading hospitality company, today piloted airbnb.com/welcome, a new platform that will allow relief organizations and nonprofits to seamlessly connect refugees, evacuees and other people in need with Airbnb hosts who have offered to temporarily house displaced people at no cost.
Starting today, authorized organizations in Canada, including SINGA Quebec, Inland Refugee Society of BC and Kinbrace can search and book Airbnb listings for refugees and other displaced people in need by visiting airbnb.com/welcome.
Earlier this year, Airbnb set a goal of providing short term housing over the next five years for 100,000 people in need around the world. The new pilot program will help achieve this goal by making it easy for relief organizations to book listings with hosts around the world who have offered to share their space with refugees at no cost. To date, there are 6,000 listings available for free and anyone who wants to volunteer to share their space with people in need can do so by visiting https://www.airbnb.ca/welcome/refugees/become-a-host.
"It's easy to feel powerless when you think about profound challenges like the refugee crisis, but there are little things everyone can do that make a big difference," said Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia. "The simple act of opening your home for a few nights can be life-changing."
"In the past, Airbnb staff worked directly with relief organizations to place refugees in need with hosts who volunteered their homes," added Gebbia. "Now, with this new resource, relief organizations around the world will be able to connect people in need directly with Airbnb hosts at no cost, which will mean shorter wait times and fewer missed opportunities."
"The new partnership between Airbnb and various refugee-serving agencies across Canada – and the world - is welcome. This is a great example of innovation, and I encourage other businesses to consider how they could also explore equally innovative ways to assist refugees and other newcomers." said Minister Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
"Kinbrace thanks Airbnb for extending the capacity and goodwill of their platform and community to the cause of emergency housing for refugees," said Chris Wiesinger, Chairperson of the Kinbrace Community Society. "Immediate housing for new arrivals in Canada meets a critical need that provides dignity, safety, and protection for vulnerable individuals and families. Kinbrace is delighted to partner with Airbnb to welcome refugees arriving in Metro Vancouver."
"When refugee claimants arrive in Canada they are scared, tired, and confused of where to go next," said Julia St. Pierre of the Inland Refugee Society of BC. This collaboration will help ensure refugee claimants experience a smooth transition to Canadian life through the support of Canadians who want to help."
"As an international citizen movement and social enterprise, we are excited by the opportunity to partner with Airbnb on this great initiative," said Jasmine Van Deventer, Executive Director of SINGA Quebec. "This project will help provide housing at a vital moment of transition and create bonds of trust and confidence between refugees and local communities."
Airbnb will work to expand the number of partners with access to airbnb.com/welcome in the months and years ahead. Airbnb's mission is to create a world where anyone can belong anywhere and has worked to support refugees and displaced people for several years:
- In the wake of Superstorm Sandy in 2012, Airbnb community members volunteered to house people displaced by the storm at no cost. The idea inspired the creation of Airbnb's disaster relief program, which has since provided free temporary housing during 65 disasters around the globe to people in need.
- To date, we have provided over 5,000 nights of free housing to relief workers working at refugee camps in Kos, Lesvos, Ionniana, Athens, and the Balkans.
- Last year, we matched up to $1 million in contributions from our community to UNHCR to support their work with refugees.
- Since November 2016, over 550 Airbnb hosts and resettled refugee families shared holiday meals to find common ground and to learn more about each other. Over the course of 2017 we will be expanding this initiative to Canada and Europe, enabling our community to offer warm meals and create new bonds with future citizens.
- Earlier this year, Airbnb pledged to contribute $4 million over the course of four years to the International Rescue Committee to support the most critical needs of displaced populations globally.
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