by Dara Kerr @darakerr
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Many tech companies have issued statements opposing US President Donald Trump's immigration ban and offered assistance in the way of legal defense funds and political pledges. But Airbnb has something very tangible and basic to offer: housing.
A day after the ban was instated, the home rental service said it would provide free temporary housing to anyone not allowed in the US. Airbnb is now explaining the specifics of its offer.
"Once we have identified individuals in need, we will work to connect them with a host who has offered free housing," an Airbnb spokesman wrote in an email. "If free housing is not available in certain markets, Airbnb will subsidize the cost of necessary listings and ensure that those in need have a free place to stay."
Silicon Valley kept a low profile on politics in the past. But over the last few years, the tech industry has become increasingly more outspoken on social issues. And Trump's executive order aimed at immigration hit home for many tech companies that have employees from all over the world. Dozens of tech leaders, including Apple CEO Tim Cook, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, have spoken out against Trump's executive order.
The order, signed by Trump on Jan. 27, puts a 90-day ban on immigrants from seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Libya. A federal judge temporarily halted the ban Saturday, but many individuals and families who were en-route to the US are still reportedly stranded at borders and in airports worldwide.
Airbnb's aim is to make sure those people have a place to stay. A company spokesman said Airbnb is working with relief organizations and responding to requests from individuals in need of temporary housing.
Airbnb has created a specific webpage that lets people volunteer rooms to refugees for free. Once the company has identified people in need, it connects them with those hosts. If a certain city or town doesn't have any volunteer hosts, Airbnb will pay for the accommodations.
The company is also providing a way to donate to three nongovernmental organizations that work with refugees: the International Rescue Committee, the International Refugee Assistance Project and the National Immigration Law Center. Airbnb will match donations from its hosts to each of these organizations up to $100,000 through April 30.
Airbnb additionally announced a similar campaign called #weaccept. For this campaign, Airbnb said it will provide short-term housing for 100,000 people over the next five years. Over the next four years, the company also pledged to donate $4 million to the International Rescue Committee.
"We'll start with refugees, disaster survivors, and relief workers, though we want to accommodate many more types of displaced people over time," Airbnb's co-founders Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk wrote in blog post Sunday.
This isn't the first time Airbnb has chipped in to help refugees. It's provided more than 3,000 nights of free housing to relief workers in Greece, Serbia and Macedonia and it's pledged to match up to $1 million in donations from Airbnb hosts to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
"Living up to our mission means supporting our global community," Chesky wrote in an email to his staff late last month. "Barring refugees and people who are not a threat from entering America simply because they are from a certain country is not right, and we must stand with those who are affected."
First published Jan. 30, 11:59 a.m. PT.
Update, Feb. 1 at 10:53 a.m. PT: Adds information on Airbnb providing a way to donate to refugee groups.
Update, Feb. 6 at 3:09 p.m. PT: Adds information on Airbnb's #weaccept campaign.
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