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Airbnb hosts can volunteer to house COVID-19 responders

Jon Fingas
Associate Editor
JOEL SAGET/AFP via Getty Images

Airbnb is dealing with COVID-19 cancellations by providing support to people on the front lines of the pandemic. It's launching a worldwide initiative that will let hosts opt in to offering free or subsidized housing to healthcare workers, first responders and other crucial staff who may need to live closer to where they're offering help. The company will partner with governments, businesses, nonprofit groups and emergency agencies to help them find hosts, while home owners who volunteer will have a cleanliness protocol to follow to minimize the chances of the coronavirus spreading.

Accordingly, Airbnb has introduced a donation tool that lets people contribute to partners supporting COVID-19 relief efforts.

The project has its roots in pilot programs in France and Italy, where healthcare workers can already get free stays through Airbnb. There are close to 6,000 hosts in those countries, and Airbnb hopes its new program will host as many as 100,000 COVID-19 responders. Whether or not this happens, the effort might be important. It could not only provide comfort to workers under tremendous stress, but reduce the need for long commutes that make it harder to practice responsible social distancing.