Austin hosts open shelters for Afghan refugees with help from Airbnb

As unrest and a painful mass exodus continues in Afghanistan amid the US withdrawal, a company is providing housing for thousands of refugees, including in Austin.

Airbnb announced Tuesday, August 24, that through Airbnb.org, it will provide free temporary housing to some 20,000 Afghan refugees around the world. Since the announcement, Airbnb says it has generated “enormous interest” from members of the Austin Airbnb community on how they can help refugees, including offering their Airbnb spaces for free.

In response to the outpouring of generosity he witnessed, on Thursday, August 26, Airbnb.org – an independent nonprofit that facilitates temporary stays for people in crisis – launched a new website, aribnb.org/refugees, which provides information on how Airbnb hosts, including those in Austin, can best help meet emergency housing needs for Afghan refugees.

Russell Smith, CEO of Texas Refugee Services, recently said KVUE that in the coming weeks, more than 300 Afghan refugees are expected to settle in Texas, including around 100 in the Austin area. Some have already arrived.

Here’s how Austinites can help:

  • Welcoming a refugee: Existing Airbnb hosts (and anyone with available space to gift) can sign up to offer free or discounted stays to Afghan refugees. Airbnb will waive all charges on all refugee stays.
  • Make a donation: Those who cannot open their homes but are interested in supporting housing for Afghan refugees can donate to Airbnb.org.

Airbnb.org will cover the cost of at least 20,000 refugee stays, but hopes to provide accommodation for even more.

Additionally, Airbnb and Airbnb.org say they are reaching out to the federal government, states and cities that have expressed interest in hosting refugees to provide them with housing as needed.

“As the situation on the ground in Afghanistan continues to evolve, Airbnb.org will continue to work closely with resettlement agencies and partners to get where the need goes, and scale this initiative and support as needed.” ”, States an Airbnb press release.

Over the past four years, Airbnb.org says it has helped provide temporary stays through its community to around 25,000 refugees. Earlier this year, the association announced the creation of a $ 25 million refugee fund.

“As tens of thousands of Afghan refugees resettle around the world, their stay will be the first chapter of their new life,” said Brian Chesky, CEO and co-founder of Airbnb. “For these 20,000 refugees, I hope the Airbnb community provides them with not only a safe place to rest and start over, but also a warm and welcoming home.

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