Mutual help needed during an Auckland emergency

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Auckland, September 28, 2017

Auckland Council and Airbnb are encouraging Aucklanders to work together in the event of an emergency and look after others in need.

The call comes on the first anniversary of an agreement between Auckland Council and Airbnb which enables Airbnb hosts to open their homes free of charge.

Airbnb’s Disaster Response Programme connects local residents who have been displaced – as well as emergency relief workers and volunteers who are coming in to assist – with local Airbnb hosts, who open their homes free of charge

Fantastic Strength

One of Auckland’s strengths is its fantastic, caring people. This partnership is a prime example of how communities can prepare to help look after each other and lend a helping hand to those in need during an emergency,” says Councillor Sharon Stewart, Chair of Auckland’s Civil Defence Committee.

Auckland Emergency Management activated Airbnb’s Disaster Response Tool in March this year providing more than 19,000 hosts with information about the shortage of treated water in Auckland following a series of storm events.

Unique Partnership

I am pleased to say that Auckland continues to lead New Zealand with this first of its kind partnership with Airbnb. It gives Auckland an innovative, agile and scalable capability to better respond to large-scale natural disasters,” says John Dragicevich, Director Auckland Emergency Management.

“Time after time, following various disasters in New Zealand and around the world, I have seen the Airbnb community come together and help those in need by opening their homes,” says Head of Global Disaster Relief and Recovery Kellie Bentz.

Disaster Response Programme

Over the past few weeks, Airbnb has activated its Disaster Response Programme in response to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. These devastating storms have and will continue to impact millions of people in communities across the US and Caribbean. Combined, more than 1,000homes have been offered to those in need.

Here in New Zealand, we want to continue to give Airbnb hosts the information they need to ensure they are well prepared in case of emergency, and encourage them to consider opening their home if the event arises where temporary accommodation is needed to host survivors displaced or relief workers,” she says.

There are currently 29,000 Airbnb listings in New Zealand, including 9,000 listings in Auckland.

Auckland is susceptible to a wide variety of hazards including rare events such as volcanic eruptions, tornadoes, tsunami and earthquakes to more frequent events such as flooding, electricity outrages and fire.

What is the Airbnb Disaster Response Programme?

Airbnb’s Disaster Response Programme connects local residents who have been displaced — as well as emergency relief workers and volunteers who are coming in to assist — with local Airbnb hosts who are opening their homes free of charge.

The concept for our Disaster Response Programme began organically back in 2012, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, when our hosts wanted to open their homes to those affected by the storm. Since then, Airbnb hosts have helped thousands of people find safe, welcoming places to stay while they rebuild their lives after natural disasters, wars, conflict, and other events. Our hosts asked us to create a way for them to be seen as a resource by those in need, and we have.

It’s central to Airbnb’s core belief as a company — that no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love, or who you worship, you deserve to belong.

How does the Disaster Response Programme work?

For both hosts who want to sign up to share their space and for people who need a place to find one, the process of participating in our Disaster Response Programme is very easy.

Hosts can list their space by going to airbnb.com/disaster-response, and select your location. Both current hosts and people who have never hosted before can follow the prompts to list their space for free.

While Airbnb waives all service fees, and all reservations made through the Disaster Response Programme have the same built-in protections as any regular Airbnb reservation. This includes our host protection insurance, and all hosts are being covered by our $1 Million Dollar Host Guarantee, which guarantees reimbursement of up to $1,000,000 for eligible hosts in the rare instances of property damage.

We also encourage all of our hosts to communicate with their potential guests ahead of time to establish a relationship and make sure expectations are clear for everyone involved– especially in rapidly changing and potentially dangerous situations, like we saw with Harvey and Irma.

How is the Disaster Response Programme is activated?

Airbnb has a team dedicated to constantly monitoring the 191 countries we operate in around the world for situations that could impact our communities. We can quickly send messaging to hosts with homes or guests traveling in those areas, warning them about dangers and recommending ways to stay safe, and how to learn more.

Critically, our team maintains close contact with local partners and officials to determine if activating our hosts would be useful, and critically, how it could be useful. This was especially important for both Hurricanes Harvey and Irma– in both cases, we needed to make sure we were activating in places that were safe. Each storm was unique, and had its own challenges in doing so– with Harvey, the storm stalled over Houston, and additional areas flooded. For Irma, the storm’s changing track, combined with the state’s unique geography– long and narrow, with many low-lying areas– meant fewer areas could be considered safe. At times, the track of Irma covered the entire state, so it was an ongoing process of working with our local partners to determine where and when to activate, and are continuing to do so as communities begin to recover and rebuild.

When has the Disaster Response Programme been activated?

Since 2012, the Disaster Response Programme has grown into a global disaster response initiative, and we’ve activated the Programme for more than 90 emergencies worldwide, from floods in Mumbai, to wildfires in British Columbia, and to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

The response to Hurricane Imra to date includes preparedness messaging sent to close to 100,000 Airbnb hosts and guests in impact areas across the Caribbean and Florida and 230+ hosts opting into the Disaster Relief Programme.

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