News Brief

Airbnb Open Homes offers free shelter to California wildfire victims

The program will last through Oct. 30

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In a matter of 24 hours, at least 1,500 homes and structures have been destroyed by a series of 17 fires sprawled across 115,000 acres of land in Northern California.

While residents have many things to worry about, such as getting in touch with loved ones and salvaging any remnants from their homes, Airbnb is working to make sure they don’t have to worry about finding a place to call home for the next month.

The company has activated its Open Homes program, which allows hosts to open their homes to evacuees and relief workers. This is the sixth time Open Homes has been used, with the latest being after the tragic Las Vegas mass shooting.

Through the program, people in need of temporary accommodations — including displaced survivors, emergency relief workers and volunteers — are able to connect with Airbnb hosts in San Francisco and parts of Marin and Alameda Counties who are welcoming guests free of charge from now through October 30, according to Kellie Bentz, Airbnb’s head of global disaster response and relief.

“We encourage hosts in safe areas to aid in this effort by listing their available rooms or homes on the platform to help the growing number of people evacuating,” Bentz said in a press release. “Our thoughts continue to be with everyone impacted by these fires, and we thank the dedicated government and emergency response agencies who are working to keep our communities safe.”

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Currently, there are 41 hosts who have opened their homes, with most of them located in the Fort Bragg, Willits, Mendocino, San Francisco and Richmond, Calif. areas.

Airbnb is calling for more hosts to join the program, and the application takes about 15 minutes to complete.

Hosts are able to determine how often they’d like to open their homes and how long guests can stay.

In order to take advantage of an Open Homes listing, guests must be Airbnb-verified account holders or have been referred through a verified agency partner.

Email Marian McPherson.