File image: Airbnb. (Independent UK).

CAPE TOWN - Airbnb will allow hosts to lend their homes to individuals in advance of a natural disaster occurring. 

At the United States Conference of Mayor’s Annual Meeting in Boston, Airbnb’s Head of Disaster Response and Relief, Kellie Bentz announced a partnership with City of San Jose. This new venture will enable Airbnb hosts to lend their space to individuals in advance of a disaster. 

According to a statement released on their blog, Airbnb believes that this will allow the community to respond much quicker to disasters. 

“As the Open Homes program grows and evolves, we’ve learned that we can do more than just support cities during times of crisis; we can support them even before a disaster occurs”, said the statement. 

         File image: Airbnb. (IOL). 

The Mayor of San Jose, Sam Liccardo expressed his excitement on the new programme and partnership with Airbnb. 

“When disaster strikes, one of our greatest needs, and challenges, is to ensure that every displaced resident has a safe place to stay. We’re thankful for our new partnership with Airbnb, which offers a great example of how government can leverage innovation to add another tool to our disaster response toolbox", said Liccardo.

This project comes after Airbnb launched its global Open Homes programme which connects those who have been displaced to individuals who have extra space. The Open Homes programme was spearheaded by the 2012 Hurricane Sandy where an Airbnb host in New York inquired whether she could host her home for free for those who needed a place to stay. 

In its pilot phase, the programme will include training for hosts, a digital campaign and the development of operational protocol for communicating emergencies to hosts and when their services are needed. 

According to Airbnb, after this pilot programme is launched in California, they will identify more cities to join the program. 

“As this first of its kind pilot launches, we look forward to the continued evolution of our program so that hosts and community members interested in assisting during times of need have a platform to do so. This is an important step, and we are thrilled partner with the City of San Jose on this new initiative”, said the statement.