Airbnb urges hosts to provide shelter to Irma evacuees
SAN JUAN – Lodging service giant Airbnb announced Monday it will activate its Disaster Response Program to help Puerto Rico, Anguila, and Antigua and Barbuda residents who were forced to leave their homes after Hurricane Irma seek temporary housing with local hosts with the company.
The program, developed in coordination with local emergency management and disaster relief officials, offers an online tool to connect hosts with displaced residents, rescue workers and volunteers in need of housing. While several inns islandwide have been operating as temporary shelters with reduced lodging fees, this service will be free of charge, with listings to be extended until Sept. 28.
Those who wish to register their home may do so on Airbnb’s Disaster Response Program page. Storm-affected guests, such as evacuees, must first register and look for “$0 listings” by choosing the relevant event and clicking, “I need a place to stay.”
Although the category 5 hurricane changed its course, some parts of Puerto Rico’s North East coast were left severely damaged, with the island-municipalities of Vieques and Culebra taking the worst hit from the weather phenomenon.
Puerto Rico may now have more than 4,000 evacuees from the hard-hit Leeward Islands.
While only 70 of the roughly 6,200 people who took refuge in shelters remain in them, the number of people who have lost their homes is even greater, La Fortaleza Chief of Staff William Villafañe said at a press conference Monday.