Hundreds of Canadian Airbnb hosts open their doors, offering to host Ukrainian refugees

After watching his Ukrainian friends struggle against the invasion of their home country, Toronto resident Aditya Ahuja jumped at the chance to help by sheltering refugees.

Ahuja opened its second room at the end of February to Ukrainian refugees looking for free or reduced-price accommodation.

“Canadians have always welcomed refugees, immigrants. I’m one of them,” said Ahuja, who immigrated to Toronto from India nearly six years ago.

“I just want to play my part and support as much as possible.”

Ahuja is one of more than 700 Canadians who are part of a global network of more than 23,000 Airbnb hosts who have signed up to house some of the three million Ukrainian refugees fleeing war since the Russian invasion on Feb. 24.

About 8,500 Ukrainian nationals have arrived in Canada since Jan. 1, including applications submitted before the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to the federal government. That number is expected to rise as Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada prepares to launch what it calls new immigration pathways – one of which is expected to open this week, according to the department.

Although Ahuja has not yet been approached by the company to resettle refugees, he says Ukrainian guests have already sought him out and is awaiting his second Thursday.

Ahuja is spreading the message of the program, hoping that more people will consider welcoming newcomers.

“People are very reluctant about it and not everyone likes to share their house,” says Ahuja.

“But I hope some people are there, like me.”

“The generosity is overwhelming”

Airbnb began helping to house displaced people in 2012, before launching its nonprofit arm,, in 2020. It recently passed the milestone of hosting 20,000 Afghan refugees worldwide.

On February 28, announced that it would provide free, temporary accommodation to up to 100,000 refugees leaving Ukraine. It has since generated more than US$22 million in donations from Airbnb, its founders, and individual donors to fund refugee stays and its partnerships with settlement agencies. helps resettle refugees only in European countries like Poland and Hungary at this time. However, the organization says some 4,000 US hosts and more than 700 in Canada have also listed their properties as open to Ukrainian refugees and can find arrangements individually, the company says.

Refugees who fled the Russian invasion of Ukraine line up to get a Polish national ID number in Krakow. (Jakub Wlodek/Agencja

Airbnb’s senior director of communications, Matt NcNama, said the company was impressed with the support around the world.

“The generosity is overwhelming. It’s a wonderful thing to see in these difficult times for Ukrainians,” McNama told CBC News. “And we hope it will continue to grow.”

The program took off as soon as guests from around the world launched a separate effort and booked stays with Ukrainian hosts they had no intention of completing as a way to donate to them, according to McNama. Over 434,000 nights have been booked since early March.

“I needed to do something to honor my grandparents”

Temporary relocations organized by and its NGO partners are supported by the company. Hosts who house Ukrainian refugees at a reduced rate are compensated and all Airbnb fees are waived, the company says.

But for Linda Allison, Airbnb host and Eastern Ontario resident, financial compensation is the last thing on her mind.

Allison, 70, has listed her guesthouse in the small town of South Glengarry, near the Quebec border, on the platform since 2017. Now she hopes she can host a small Ukrainian family once they arrive in Canada .

Eastern Ontario resident Linda Allison has been renting her guesthouse loft since 2017. She hopes to house those affected by the crisis in Ukraine free of charge while they settle in Canada or prepare to return. home when they are safe. (Submitted by Linda Allison)

With family ties to Warsaw, Poland and Lviv, Ukraine, Allison says the displacement of Ukrainians is hitting close to home.

“I know the stories I’ve been told since I was a kid about what happened to them when the Germans came and how it marked my grandparents for life,” Allison said.

“When I heard about what was going on, I just felt like I had to do something to honor my grandparents.”

If demand exceeds the initial cap of 100,000 refugees, McNama says Airbnb is open to possibly moving the target further.

“Airbnb, by the very nature of its platform, is for people around the world. In this particular case, it’s for refugees,” McNama said.

“But we are not the resettlement experts. We rely on our NGO partners and resettlement agencies to really address this need, and we will work with them to meet it.”

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