Airbnb will temporarily house thousands of Afghan refugees for free
The number of refugees Airbnb says it is providing with free housing
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky announced via Twitter earlier today that the multibillion-dollar travel startup will provide free temporary housing around the world for 20,000 Afghan refugees as they seek asylum from the massive humanitarian crisis occurring within their home country. He did not specify how long the offer would last.
“While we will be paying for these stays, we could not do this without the generosity of our Hosts,” Chesky continued, adding that the unfolding events overseas present “one of the biggest humanitarian crises of our time.” To do this, Airbnb’s nonprofit wing, Airbnb.org, has partnered with various hosts, NGOs, and other organizations to take care of logistics. Chesky also encouraged anyone hosting properties via the company to volunteer their own spaces for additional refugees in the months to come.
This isn’t the first time Airbnb has waded into contentious sociopolitical situations. At the beginning of the year, the company canceled all Washington, D.C. reservations leading up to the inauguration of President Joe Biden in an attempt to help curb events akin to January 6’s MAGA putsch at the U.S. Capitol building. Additionally, the company announced it was moving to identify and ban users it could confirm took part in the deadly riot. Just over a year ago, the booking service also attempted to prevent mass gathering parties being organized via the app amidst the nationwide COVID-19 lockdowns.
Let’s not forget the bad stuff — While Airbnb certainly deserves a hand for its part in helping with the horrendous events transpiring in Afghanistan, let’s not get carried away with the praise just yet. This is, after all, a company with a multimillion-dollar “black box” unit responsible for covering up all the terrifying, unseemly events and crimes that occur through their bookings. They (alongside other corporations like Disney and Intuit) also have a habit of paying call center reps starvation wages, with reports as low as $2.52 per hour. Then there was that whole attempt at guilting customers to pay even more money to overextended landlords, which went about exactly as how you expect it did.
But yes, credit where credit is due. This is a welcome bit of news during the torrent of awfulness coming from the collapsing Middle Eastern country, and similar companies definitely should move to do the same on their ends. Your move, VRBO.