Short-term rental giant Airbnb has surpassed its goal of temporarily housing 20,000 Afghan refugees and has set a new goal to house 20,000 more refugees, the company announced this week.
In August, Airbnb committed to providing free, temporary housing to 20,000 Afghan refugees worldwide at its listings following the displacement of millions in the wake of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.
The program was funded through contributions to Airbnb.org, the company’s independent nonprofit arm, from Airbnb, its CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky, Airbnb.org’s co-founder and chairman Joe Gebbia and donors to the Airbnb.org Refugee Fund, according to the company.
In addition, more than 7,100 Airbnb hosts offered free and discounted stays to Afghan refugees, allowing the company to announce, six months after announcing the initiative, that it had surpassed its goal, providing housing to nearly 21,300 Afghan refugees.
“When we began efforts to provide housing to Afghan refugees, we asked our community to open up their homes or donate to meet this critical need,” Chesky said in a statement.
“Due to the generosity of our Hosts and donors to Airbnb.org, and the dedication of our nonprofit partners helping to drive this important work, we’ve been able to surpass our original goal.”
To achieve its goal, Airbnb worked with the U.S. government; U.S. resettlement agencies; nonprofits such as the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Church World Service (CWS), and HIAS; Afghan-led organizations such as Women for Afghan Women; the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society and their national network of 34 resettlement agencies in Canada; Refugee Action in the United Kingdom; and Amnesty International Ireland.
The federal effort to resettle Afghan refugees is known as Operation Allies Welcome.
“Operation Allies Welcome has been a historic whole-of-society effort to resettle our Afghan allies – a majority of whom worked on behalf of the United States, or were family members of those who did – in communities across our country,” said Robert Fenton, Operation Allies Welcome Senior Response Official, in a statement.
“This Operation is made possible by partnerships across the private sector and local communities.”
6 months ago, we set a goal to house 20,000 Afghan refugees. Today, we surpassed that goal
This crisis isn’t over, so we’re gonna double our goal and house 40,000 Afghan refugees
— Brian Chesky (@bchesky) February 22, 2022
Through Airbnb.org, Airbnb now plans to provide housing to another 20,000 refugees. Although Chesky said on Twitter that the new goal was to house 40,000 Afghan refugees, a company spokesperson told Inman the new goal was to house 20,000 additional refugees from Afghanistan as well as other countries, including from Central America. Inman has asked if Airbnb has set a deadline for itself to meet its new goal and will update this story if and when we hear back.
“Over the past five years, Airbnb and Airbnb.org have connected more than 48,000 newcomers — including U.S. Special Immigrant Visa Program recipients, Venezuelan refugees and Afghan humanitarian parolees — to temporary housing through Airbnb.org partners, and those efforts will continue through 2022 and beyond,” the company said in a press release.
“As a part of its commitment to provide housing to another 20,000 refugees, Airbnb.org plans to invest in the ability to more deeply understand and track the impact of this program on people’s lives, in line with its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion commitments.”
In December, when Inman asked how long Afghan refugees would be able to take advantage of the program, a company spokesperson said that Airbnb.org “is committed to working with their partners to provide housing for as long as needed.” The spokesperson added that the nonprofit will “follow the need” and “work closely with resettlement agencies and parters to go where the need goes and evolve this initiative and support as necessary.”
In its press release Airbnb said it continued to call on the private sector to join efforts to support Afghan newcomers.
The company said it will continue to support Welcome.US, a national nonprofit dedicated to mobilizing Americans to help Afghan refugees, and that Chesky and Gebbia will serve on the nonprofit’s Welcome Council, which has more than 150 members and includes such notables as musician Yo-Yo Ma, former Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, actor Tony Goldwyn, Starbucks’ Howard Schultz, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and alternative medicine advocate Deepak Chopra.