NEW YORK (FOX 5 NEWS) - Millions of homes around the world are available for rent through Airbnb. Now the company wants to leverage that to help those who have no place to call home: refugees.
"At the end of 2015 when the global refugee crisis was really starting to mushroom, we started investigating and exploring ways that our hosts might be able to help," said Kim Rubey, Airbnb's director of social good.
Airbnb's Open Homes platform actually came to be in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, when Airbnb hosts contacted the company, saying they wanted to offer their homes for free to victims of the storm. Since then, Airbnb has activated the Open Homes tool 65 times in 17 countries in the wake of natural disasters. Now the company is using it to help the refugee crisis.
"Being able to provide them welcoming, warm homes as they're integrating into their communities is just such a great way to have a meaningful impact on someone who's in need," Rubey said.
The hosts offer their homes for free. Airbnb takes no fee. Airbnb is working with the International Rescue Committee to pair the refugees with Airbnbs when they first arrive in new cities.
"Already we're being told more than 100 New Yorkers have opened their home to refugees," said Colleen Ryan, IRC vice president of communication. "People are coming from unimaginable circumstances, right, they're coming from Syria, from places in Africa where life is very, very difficult, they are so excited to be able to restart their lives and then to be told 'You're going to be in a real home when you get there that's been provided by an Airbnb host' is amazing for them."
Airbnb said anyone who is interested in joining the Open Homes platform and welcoming refugees can sign up that through the website even if you're not currently an Airbnb member.