Airbnb Partners with SolidarityNow To Launch New Platform Providing Housing for Refugees and Displaced Populations in Greece

Sophia Ioannou

New Technology Lets Anyone with a Spare Bedroom Open Their Home,
Help Address Global Refugee Crisis

 

Airbnb, the world’s leading hospitality company, in partnership with SolidarityNow, a pioneering Greek NGO working with migrants and refugees, launched Open Homes in Greece, a new platform that will make it easier for people to open their homes to refugees and displaced populations. Anyone can volunteer their space by visiting airbnb.com/welcome/refugees/.

The new platform connects Airbnb hosts who have offered to temporarily house displaced people at no cost with relief organizations and nonprofits that serve refugees and other people in need. Authorized organizations can use Open Homes to search and book free Airbnb listings for refugees and other displaced people in need. Starting today, SolidarityNow will match refugees and other displaced populations to available accommodation through the platform, and act as a liaison between guests, hosts, and Airbnb.

It’s easy to feel powerless when you think about massive global challenges such as the refugee crisis, but there are things everyone can do that make a big difference”, said Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia. “The simple act of opening your home for a few nights can be life-changing for people who who’ve had to leave everything behind.

Earlier this year, Airbnb set a goal of providing short-term housing over the next five years for 100,000 people in need around the world. The new platform will help achieve this goal by making it easy for relief organizations to book listings with hosts around the world who have offered to share their space with refugees at no cost. To date, 6,000 people have offered globally to open their home to a refugee at no cost.

There are approximately 35,000 asylum seekers in Greece with no access to accommodation besides camps. These include candidates for the European Union’s relocation program who have not yet secured accommodation through existing programs, or asylum seekers who are ineligible for relocation (and thus also ineligible for program placements). SolidarityNow and Airbnb hope to make a significant impact by placing thousands of these refugees in homes during this partnership.

“We are thrilled to pair SolidarityNow’s deep local expertise with Airbnb’s powerful community of hosts to provide housing solutions for refugees in Greece,” said Sofia Gkiousou, Airbnb’s Regional Policy Manager for Greece. “We look forward to this initiative not only providing shelter for those who have been forced from their homes, but also to foster a deeper community among refugees and Greeks.”

The partnership has been created with the support of Open Society Foundations, and in collaboration with the Radcliffe Foundation and the Ascend Initiative, a new philanthropic effort launched in Concordia last week.

We believe this groundbreaking initiative will benefit guests, hosts, and the wider community alike”, said Epaminondas Farmakis, Executive Director of SolidarityNow.We hope our partnership will enable local hosts to gain awareness of the plight of refugees and edge the wider community towards acceptance and smooth coexistence, as well as promote our longstanding goal to #closethecamps.

In the past, Airbnb staff worked directly with relief organizations to place refugees with hosts who volunteered their homes”, added Gebbia. “Now leveraging Airbnb’s core competency is easy for anyone who has a spare room or apartment and wants to connect with relief organizations and play a small role in tackling this global challenge.”

Airbnb’s mission is to create a world where anyone can belong anywhere and has worked to support refugees and displaced people for several years:

  • In the wake of Superstorm Sandy in 2012, Airbnb community members volunteered to house people displaced by the storm at no cost. The idea inspired the creation of Airbnb’s disaster relief program, which has since provided free temporary housing during 65 disasters around the globe to people in need.
  • To date, we have provided over 5,000 nights of free housing to relief workers working on the refugee crisis in Kos, Lesvos, Ionnina, Athens, and the Balkans.
  • Last year, we matched up to $1 million in contributions from our community to UNHCR to support their work with refugees.
  • Since November 2016, over 550 Airbnb hosts and resettled refugee families shared holiday meals to find common ground and to learn more about each other. Over the course of 2017 we will be expanding this initiative, enabling our community to offer warm meals and create new bonds with future citizens.
  • When policies that prohibited some people from entering the United States were enacted earlier this year, thousands of members of the Airbnb community volunteered to open their homes to displaced travelers.
  • Earlier this year, Airbnb pledged to contribute $4 million over the course of four years to the International Rescue Committee to support the most critical needs of displaced populations globally.

SolidarityNow is a network of organizations aiming to assist and support those most affected by the economic and humanitarian crises in Greece. Through the provision of services to both the local Greek and migrant populations, it seeks to restore the vision of a strong Europe based on solidarity and open values.

  • Since 2013 it has implemented 75 programs on human rights and social justice, protection of vulnerable populations, youth, and advocacy; one third of its programs are directly related to the refugee crisis. More than 65,000 persons in need have passed the previous year through the open-door policy Centers in Athens and Thessaloniki operated by SolidarityNow and funded by the Open Society Foundations.
  • Its staff combines expertise with deep local experience to ensure successful matching services, secure the safety and comfort of guests and foster a sense of community between hosts and guests.
  • It currently provides accommodation to 1,200 people through building and apartment rentals (hosted more than 3,700 people of concern during 2016), under the Accommodation project “Home for Hope” implemented with support from UNHCR and the EU. While provided services to more than 1,000 children in camps with the Blue Dots program funded by UNICEF.