Airbnb is mobilizing its network of renters to offer free, short-term stays to up to 100,000 refugees who are fleeing Ukraine during Russia’s invasion of the Eastern European country, the company announced Monday. The effort runs through an affiliated nonprofit, Airbnb.org, which formed to provide temporary housing for crises dating back to Hurricane Sandy in New York.
Ukraine has continued to see traffic jams near the border as residents flee the country. More than 500,000 people have now crossed into neighboring countries, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees said Monday. Over half have gone to Poland, according to the refugee agency, and people also are traveling to Hungary, Moldova, Romania and Slovakia.
Airbnb executives sent letters to the leaders of Germany, Hungary, Poland and Romania, lending their support for refugees, the company said.
The stays will be funded by Airbnb, contributions to the Airbnb.org Refugee Fund and Airbnb.org hosts, per the news release. The company added that Airbnb.org “will work closely with governments to best support the specific needs in each country, including by providing longer-term stays.”
Airbnb did not immediately respond to questions about where housing would be located and how long guests will be able to stay.
Co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky shared the news Monday on Twitter, and he asked for assistance from potential hosts. “We need help to meet this goal,” he wrote. “The greatest need we have is for more people who can offer their homes in nearby countries, including Poland, Germany, Hungary and Romania.”
Chesky directed those interested in hosting to Airbnb.org’s website. Those unable to host can donate money to help cover the cost of temporary lodging. The company said Airbnb.org will work with other nonprofits on the ground, which will handle booking and coordinate stays for refugees. Chesky tweeted that more details would be provided in the coming days.
Last week, the company said Airbnb.org had exceeded its goal of providing temporary stays to 20,000 Afghan refugees, most of which were fully funded.