Have a big heart and an extra room in your home? Airbnb wants to connect you with a refugee who could use a place to stay.
The site on Wednesday began piloting a new platform that connects refugees and evacuees with free temporary housing. Anyone who wants to temporarily house displaced people at no cost can head here and volunteer to open their home.
"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," Airbnb Chief Product Officer and co-founder Joe Gebbia said in a statement. "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."
The new pilot platform connects hosts with relief organizations that serve refugees, evacuees and other people in need, including the International Rescue Committee, which provides support for refugees in 40 countries and resettles them in the U.S. Qualifying organizations can search and book free Airbnb listings for refugees and other displaced people.
Other organizations with access to the tool include SINGA Quebec, Inland Refugee Society of British Columbia, Kinbrace, Singa France, Refugiés Bienvenue, Elan Samusocial and SolidarityNow. Airbnb will not collect a fee on these booking as it does on standard listings.
You can open your home up for just one night or months. "It's entirely up to you. If you can only do 1 night, that's great. If you can open your home for 3 months, that's also great!" Airbnb said.
As for whether you can set preferences for who can live in your home, Airbnb notes that "our community believes in a policy of acceptance, no matter where they're from, what their gender is or what religion they practice. You are in complete control of how often you want to open your home, how long of a stay you're comfortable with, and what causes you wish to support."
If your home seems like a good fit for a particular case, someone from one of the vetted organizations will reach out to you via Airbnb to determine if your home is indeed suitable. Case workers will, at the same time, be working to find your guests longer-term housing that they can step into once they leave your home.
If you're an existing host, you can continue to accept regular Airbnb bookings as you open your home to refugees.
The new platform comes after Airbnb earlier this year set a goal of providing short-term housing over the next five years for 100,000 people around the world. The company said this new platform will help the company achieve this goal. Some 6,000 people have already offered to open their home to refugees for free, Airbnb said.