Sometimes, when you’re searching, Google will present you with a list of questions that people also ask. When I googled the corporate slogan “live like a local” earlier, the search engine’s first helpful suggested question for me was, “Can you temporarily live in an Airbnb?” which makes me wonder what Google knows about my financial situation that I have yet to find out.
For some people the answer to this question may shortly be a resounding “yes”. The company’s chief executive Brian Chesky (who is, rather rudely I thought, 39 years old) tweeted on Tuesday that the online accommodation platform would temporarily house 20,000 Afghan refugees at no charge, to help them get resettled in wherever it is they somehow end up.
To do this, it’ll work with NGOs, resettlement agencies and its own non-profit arm, Airbnb.org: that span off from the response to Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and matches people desperate for accommodation at a time of disaster with people who have both a willingness to help and space.
“My hope,” Chesky added, “is that the Airbnb community will provide them with not only a safe place to rest and start over, but also a warm, welcome home.”
Starting today, Airbnb will begin housing 20,000 Afghan refugees globally for free.
— Brian Chesky (@bchesky) August 24, 2021
We shouldn’t be too cynical about this. On the face of it, it means help for people in their darkest hour, and it’s a shocking indictment of the British government that Airbnb is promising to take in four times as many refugees as the whole of the UK. (Sure, the government is promising to help 20,000 people too, but to do so over five years, thus rendering the promise effectively meaningless.)