SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Popular online hospitality service Airbnb is making a foray into providing emergency shelters for Californians displaced by rampant wildfires.
The Open Homes Program is designed to house those temporarily displaced by the River, Ranch and Carr fires in Northern California. It began on July 27 for the Shasta County region, but has now been expanded through August 17 to include parts of Butte, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Modoc, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, Siskiyou, Solano, Tehama and Yolo counties as well as part of Southern Oregon.
"We want to ensure those who are impacted and need temporary shelter are aware of the program and the expanded areas of activation, as well as spread the word to those who have the capability to be a host and open their homes," said a statement from Airbnb.
However, the real charity comes from the Airbnb hosts—ordinary people who rent out their spaces through the site, and have now volunteered to take in evacuees for free, with no booking fees or charges for those displaced by wildfire.
The concept for the Open Homes Program began organically back in 2012 in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and has since grown into a global disaster response initiative. Airbnb says that the progran makes it easy for hosts to provide space for people in need when disasters strike.