Airbnb Announces Bay County Expansion for Hurricane Michael Open Homes Program

Airbnb today expanded the activation zone for its Open Homes Program to Bay County to aid Floridians forced to evacuate from their homes in connection with Hurricane Michael, as well as relief workers arriving to provide assistance.

In the event of major emergencies like Michael, Airbnb’s Disaster Response and Relief Team activates its host communities through the Open Homes program to support neighbors helping neighbors. The Open Homes platform allows residents who have been displaced — as well as emergency relief workers and volunteers who are coming in to assist — to find temporary accommodations with local hosts who are opening their homes free of charge.

Airbnb previously expanded the activation zone to include nearly all of northern Florida, with the initial exception of Bay County and some surrounding coastal communities where it was initially too dangerous to guide evacuees due to Michael’s direct hit. After increased emergency housing demand among the evacuee and responder community, and in concert with local officials, Airbnb has now expanded to Bay in order to support those whose homes suffered serious damage. The expansion will also accommodate relief workers needing to be as close as possible to communities such as Mexico Beach and Port St. Joe.

Airbnb hosts in the following communities are now eligible to take part in the program and list their homes for free to evacuees and emergency relief workers:

  • Florida — nearly all of the northern half of the state, with the exception of some coastal areas that took a direct hit

  • Alabama

    • Greater Mobile area

    • Greater Montgomery area

    • Greater Dothan area

    • Greater Auburn/Opelika area

  • Mississippi

    • Greater Biloxi/Gulfport area

  • Georgia — entire state

  • South Carolina — entire state

  • North Carolina — entire state

  • Virginia — entire state

These $0 listings are available until October 29, 2018. Airbnb remains in close contact with emergency management officials in Florida and the other Southeast states.

The idea for Airbnb’s disaster relief program began in 2012 in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and has since grown into a global disaster response initiative that makes it easy for Airbnb hosts to provide space for people in need when disasters strike. To date, the disaster response and relief team has responded to over 250 disasters worldwide, including most recently Hurricane Florence and Tropical Storm Gordon.

Background on how the Disaster Response Program works:

  • Airbnb has contacted all of its hosts within the 3-state activation zone to inform them of the Disaster Response activation and encourage them to take part in the program if they are in a position to help

  • Hosts interested in listing their properties for free are being directed to follow airbnb.com/hurricanemichael, where they can opt in by clicking “Sign Up Your Home”

  • The evacuees are being directed to follow the same link — airbnb.com/hurricanemichael — where they can locate free listings within close proximity by clicking “Find Shelter”

  • The Airbnb platform then facilitates the connection between the hosts and guests

  • Those who are not currently Airbnb users are still able to take part in the program either as hosts or guests — simply by creating a verified account on the platform

  • In addition to the free listing price, all Airbnb service fees and state/local taxes are waived

  • The hosts may decide how long they wish to list their homes for free within the program activation window (October 8 – 29)

As a public service, Airbnb is asking local news outlets to share the following link: airbnb.com/hurricanemichael

Airbnb wishes to thank the local hosts who have opened their homes to those in need, as well as local media outlets who have helped spread the word.

The current Open Homes activation area for Hurricane Michael can be found below: