Giving Back: Offering your Airbnb for Emergency Placements

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The world is constantly shifting, throwing major curve balls at us. Natural disasters, health pandemics, or war may leave people displaced and without shelter. During these times, we see humankind sparkle—unity and kindness overwhelm our society, bolstering those that need it the most. People worldwide are being stripped of their homes, family, and safety. Emergencies can turn their lives upside down in a second, and there is a desperate need for safe and secure temporary accommodations.

As an Airbnb Host, you may have years of experience and multiple listings, or you may be just setting up your first Airbnb. Regardless of your hosting history, you can help give back to those who need it most by offering your Airbnb for emergency placement.

The Positive Impact of Emergency Placement

The time between people fleeing from crisis and securing a long-term plan is one of the most challenging times for those affected. They have nowhere to go, decompress, and work out their next move. It is possible to register your Airbnb as an emergency placement for people in desperate times of need. You can offer your Airbnb free of charge or at a discounted rate to cover your basic costs.

Registering your Airbnb for emergency placements means you may house natural disaster survivors, refugees, or asylum seekers. Most of us are fortunate enough never to think about these events for ourselves, but many others do, and offering those people a safe place that they can call home for a short period of time can be a saving grace.

Before offering my Airbnb as an emergency placement location, what do I need to know?

Even if offering your Airbnb for emergency placements is something you would love to be a part of, you likely have some concerns – as anyone would. Trust us, we get it, and it’s wise getting these questions out of the way so that if you do decide to register as an emergency placement, not only are your guests protected, but you are too.

Some non-profit partners work alongside Airbnb for this kind of specialty project. While offering help to refugee guests, they also take care of the eligibility screening process, taking that responsibility off of you as the host. Additionally, there are some differences regarding the types of guests staying at your Airbnb under emergency placement and how they book their accommodation.

People Impacted by a Disaster

There are multiple ways in which people impacted by a disaster can book emergency accommodations, and it all depends on the situation:

  • Individuals may be able to request emergency housing directly through a dedicated website for the disaster event. This is commonly used for disasters that affect many people at once.
  • Nonprofit partners may book the stay on behalf of the individual, or refer the relief workers associated with the disaster to a catalog of Airbnb emergency placement locations.
  • Individuals might decide to book the accommodation for themselves, or their organization might book on their behalf.

Refugees and Asylum Seekers

With refugees and asylum seekers, the circumstances are slightly different. And nonprofit partners almost always book their emergency placement. This allows the nonprofit partners to instruct the guests on any house rules and work through any questions or language barriers.

Refugees may not have their own account and ability to book your Airbnb. It’s also likely that they won’t be aware of, or have agreed to, any of your Terms of Service. For the hosts’ security, all the guests are screened for eligibility. 

Those eligible for refugee housing are recognized refugees or are currently seeking asylum, a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV), or any other immigration status designations with a similar humanitarian purpose. This gives you, the host, protection, and peace of mind for your property. 

Getting Your Airbnb Ready For Emergency Placements

If you have decided to open your space to those experiencing a crisis, it is time to get the space ready for people to arrive. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when opening your space to emergency placements:

  • Ensure your space offers safety and security. As you can probably imagine, dealing with the aftermath of a horrific event can be just as traumatic as the event itself. Giving your guests the ability to escape to a place that allows them to feel safe goes a long way.
  • Be proactive about responding to requests once you have registered your Airbnb as an emergency placement. It not only benefits those looking for placement but is also helpful for you as the host. You can gauge the number of guests and any pets while getting a better idea about what it is your guests may need.
  • Make sure you’re thinking about what makes a house feel like a “home.” Don’t forget that these people have likely just lost all their comforts. They’re going without essential things like hygiene supplies, a washing machine, children’s toys, etc. Offering these important items and even comforts like toys or blankets can allow them to carry on with certain aspects of their lives.

Talking With Your Guests Once They Arrive

  • Avoid being presumptuous. It’s human nature to want to hear the heartbreaking stories of your guests. But there’s a good chance they’re not ready to relive what’s happened to them.
  • Ask questions about their needs. If you decide to accept a placement, talk to the guests about their needs so you can go the extra mile.
  • Value your guests’ privacy. Experiencing a traumatic event can take its toll on people. And it’s likely that once they finally settle into a safe space, all they’ll want to do is spend time with their family and loved ones. It is noble to be a helpful and supportive host, but sometimes you have to respect people’s space.

We forget how fortunate we are sometimes. After all, we have a roof over our heads and another one that brings in extra income. But being able to offer that to people in desperate need can be a great way to give back.

About the Author Rachel Jones

Rachel Jones is an award-winning writer and editor from Oklahoma City, OK. Her work has been published on influential sites, including Entrepreneur and International Business Times. She spent several years in property management and leasing, handling short-term rentals, student housing, and community rentals. Rachel is also experienced in staging and real estate photography. With a B.A. in English in her back pocket, Rachel combines her passion for property management with her storytelling ability to offer Airbnb hosts helpful advice as they monetize their homes.