Floridians who have been displaced by Hurricane Irma — or are still struggling without power — can stay at Airbnb homes in Miami-Dade, Orlando, Tampa and the Suncoast region for free.
Home-sharing platform Airbnb expanded its disaster response program to the region Thursday after opening it in north Florida and Georgia during evacuations last week, and then expanding it to Alabama, South Carolina and North Carolina. The site is working with Florida and county emergency officials to turn the program, which usually is devoted to evacuees, into a long-term recovery option locally.
Emergency relief workers may also take part.
Airbnb hosts can register to offer their home, but must do so for free. The listings will be available until Sept. 28. In addition to free listings, service fees and state and local taxes are also waived.
In the states that have already had the program activated due to Irma, 230 temporary accommodations have been made available by Airbnb hosts, said Kellie Bentz, Airbnb’s global head of disaster relief, via a statement.
“This number continues to grow, and is a testament to the strength of the Airbnb community — it is literally neighbors helping neighbors, across communities and states, and it’s great to see,” Bentz said. “And we know the response to disasters like Hurricane Irma doesn’t end when the storm does — many people still need places to stay while areas recover and rebuild, and we encourage people to consider making space in their homes available to their neighbors in need.”
The platform has informed both hosts and users that the program is now active. Prospective guests can look for accommodations and Airbnb hosts can offer their homes here. As of Thursday evening, about 60 listings were available across the southern United States.
The disaster response program began in 2012 in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and has since been activated more than 75 times during natural disasters, including Hurricane Matthew in Florida in 2016 and Hurricane Harvey in Texas last month.