Airbnb Lodging Offered Free of Charge to Evacuees in Wake of Flooding

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Courtesy / Texas parks and Wildlife

The Llano River's floodwaters destroyed a traffic bridge in Kingsland, Texas.

As the waters keep rising due to major flooding throughout Central Texas, Airbnb activated a program Friday to help provide housing for flood victims and relief workers.

Airbnb, the online marketplace for short-term housing, has switched on its Open Homes Program after rising waters in area lakes and rivers have washed away homes and businesses in counties along the Llano and Colorado rivers north of San Antonio.

The program connects displaced residents and relief workers in need of temporary housing with Airbnb hosts who are opening their homes free of charge. The program was started in 2010 after Hurricane Sandy. Most recently, the program was activated in the Florida panhandle in the wake of Hurricane Michael.

According to forecasters with the U.S. Drought Monitor, September 2018 was the wettest September on Texas record. Multiple Central Texas reservoirs are now completely full.

Reports stated Lake Travis took on more water in one week than the entire city of Austin would use in four years, rising 21 feet within two days’ time, according to the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA). On Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for 18 counties in Central Texas, and the LCRA has closed lakes Buchanan, Inks, LBJ, Marble Falls, and Travis until further notice.

Airbnb hosts in more than 50 Texas counties, including Bexar and surrounding counties, are eligible to take part in the program and list their homes for free to evacuees and emergency relief workers.

Airbnb has contacted its hosts within the activation zone to inform them of the disaster response activation and encourage them to participate. A check of the site currently shows nearly 150 hosts have signed up for the program.

The current homes activation area.

Courtesy / Airbnb

The current homes activation area.

No-charge listings are available from Oct. 18 to Nov. 8. Airbnb officials said they continue to monitor the flooding and will evaluate expanding the territory if needed.

Interested Airbnb hosts and evacuees seeking housing should sign up on the website here. In addition to the free listing price, all Airbnb service fees and state and local taxes are waived.

A flood watch is currently in effect through this evening for Bexar County and 20 other counties in South Central Texas. The National Weather Service reports new rainfall amounts of 1 to 2 inches, and in some areas up to 5 inches, will continue across the Hill Country on Friday and through the weekend, with heavy rain possible again mid-week.

One thought on “Airbnb Lodging Offered Free of Charge to Evacuees in Wake of Flooding

  1. This speaks volumes of AirBnB hosts but what does it really say about the company? For every dollar the company is giving up, a host is giving up $25. The company is not offering hosts any compensation, neither monetary nor promotional to guests who take part in this program. So while hosts are losing income for their good hearts, the company cashes in on their loss of income in return for free advertising through articles written about the program. The free public image promotion that AirBnB receives saves them an amount of money in promotion/advertising fees that greatly outweighs their loss of income and on top of that pays dividends by bringing in new customers. Individual hosts who open up their hearts and homes for free won’t get any of this benefit from AirBnb. In fact, AirBnb will state that the benefit is the potential created by the new customer influx but that benefit would be enjoyed by all hosts, even the ones who don’t open up their home, since AirBnb won’t give promotional consideration to the hosts who participate in the program. The point of my comment is this article gives way too much credit to AirBnb and not enough to the hosts, who are the true heroes in this.

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