San Jose, Airbnb Launch Housing Program for Disaster Victims

San Jose and Airbnb have joined forces to launch a program that enlists homeowners willing to host people displaced by emergencies, such as a flood or earthquake.

Host Corps, a first-of-its-kind program, is an extension of the San Francisco-based house-sharing company’s Open Homes Program, which was created after Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast in 2012.

In a press release Thursday, Mayor Sam Liccardo said Host Corps was launched in San Jose in response to the 2017 Coyote Creek flood, which prompted the city to issue evacuation orders for 14,000 households and caused $100 million in damage.

The program, which was announced over the summer, is officially active. Liccardo announced the launch this morning at the Vietnamese Community Center alongside Kim Rubey, Airbnb’s head of social impact and philanthropy, and Airbnb host Aidan O’Leary.

The program already had a pilot run after the February 2017 flood, according to Mercury News article from back in June. Airbnb hosts received notifications through the platform’s Open Homes feature, but there weren’t enough hosts to meet the demand.

The Host Corps is different from the Open Homes initiative in that it isn’t limited to people already using the short-term rental network. Through Host Corps, hosts can sign up ahead of time if they want to offer their homes as temporary shelters for people displaced by natural disaster, people who need a place to stay while traveling for medical purposes or even international refugees.

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