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Airbnb hosts are giving free rooms to bushfire victims

(Source: AAP, Airbnb)

Airbnb hosts are opening their homes to Australians who have lost their homes in the NSW and Queensland bushfires that continue to ravage the east coast.

Airbnb’s ‘Open Homes’ program, which allows hosts to make accommodation – even just a spare bed – free for those who need emergency housing, has a dedicated page for those displaced by the bushfires that have destroyed more than 200 homes.

Accommodation is available for free between now and the 22nd of November. Like searching for any other Airbnb listing, you can choose your start date, end date, and the number of adults and children that need hosting.

According to Airbnb Australia country manager Susan Wheeldon, more than 350 hosts have volunteered their homes for emergency accommodation.

“What is astounding is the geographic range of the houses being offered. You’ve got places from south of Bundaberg, Toowoomba, Ballina all the way to places like Coffs Harbour, Bryon Bay and Port Macquarie,” Wheeldon told SBS’ The Feed.

Airbnb's Open Homes for NSW, QLD bushfire victims. (Source: Yahoo Finance screenshot/Airbnb)

The free accommodation is also offered to first responders, like the NSW Rural Fire Service and the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service.

“When you think about exhausted fire-fighters that also potentially could be far away from home and in areas with limited supplies, it allows them to continue to do their job as well,” Wheeldon said.

Even if you’re not already a host with Airbnb, you can still list accommodation as an Open Home.

Local businesses open their arms

And it’s not just good-samaritan locals that are helping out: socially conscious businesses are pitching in, too.

A cafe in Sydney’s Newtown, Parliament on King, also doubles as an Airbnb – and Ravi, the owner, is making the listing free for someone who needs it.

“If you’ve lost your house in the fires, or can’t go home because of them, you can stay with us, at Parliament on King, for free for a few days until it’s over,” said a Parliament on King post on Facebook.

“We have two rooms, so a family can stay. We’ll make sure you get fed, there will be clean towels, sheets, and whatever else you need. We'll make you feel welcome.”

Wheeldon said the sheer number of listings being added, “minute by minute”, was “really heartwarming”.

“It’s a testament to the amazing Australian community, It’s allowing a number of residents that have been devastated by bushfire to have somewhere that they can all home, if only temporarily.”

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