Airbnb, San Francisco and Portland City Leaders Visit White House, Announce New Emergency Preparedness Partnership

Airbnb, San Francisco and Portland City Leaders Visit White House, Announce New Emergency Preparedness Partnership

SAN FRANCISCO – July 29, 2014 – Today, officials from Airbnb and the cities of San Francisco and Portland will visit the White House for the White House Innovation for Disaster Response and Recovery Initiative Demo Day and announce new partnerships that will help the Airbnb community and cities prepare for and respond to local emergencies.

The partnerships between the cities are outlined in two Memorandums of Understanding signed by Airbnb and the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management and the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management.

As part of the agreements, Airbnb will work with the cities before, during, and after disasters to leverage the Airbnb community’s resources to build resilience in these cities. Specifically, Airbnb will partner independently with both San Francisco and Portland over the next year to:

  1. Pre-identify and activate Airbnb hosts who will commit to opening their doors to displaced persons and disaster service workers when an emergency occurs.
  2. Provide disaster and emergency preparedness educational materials to Airbnb hosts to help them become the most prepared residents on the block.
  3. Use Airbnb mobile and web technology to notify hosts and guests about significant hazardous incidents.
  4. Facilitate community emergency response trainings to cultivate Airbnb hosts as trained leaders within their neighborhoods.

“The sharing economy was born here in the Innovation Capital of the World, and its growth is leveraging technology and innovation to connect people and help our City become more prepared and resilient against disaster,” said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. “This new partnership with Airbnb ensures greater access to important emergency preparedness information and facilitates temporary housing needs for our City’s residents, should the need arise during an emergency or disaster.”

"Residents looking after residents. Neighbors taking care of neighbors. This is such a 'Portland' thing," said Portland Mayor Charlie Hales. "This project matches the city's spirit perfectly." 

“This partnership applies an innovative approach to increase Portland’s ability to provide shelter following a disaster,” said Portland Bureau of Emergency Management Director Carmen Merlo. “We appreciate Airbnb’s willingness to work with us to make help make Portland a more resilient community.”

“Having a warm place to stay or even knowing more about what’s going on helps us feel like we’re not alone during an emergency,” said Anne Kronenberg, Executive Director, San Francisco Department of Emergency Management.  “The impact of sharing and community are more powerful than the force generated by any earthquake, tsunami, or fire.”

“Opening doors to people who need a place to stay is in the DNA of the Airbnb community,” said Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky. “When Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast, 1,400 Airbnb hosts in New York opened doors and cooked meals for those left stranded. We were inspired by these stories to build a disaster response initiative with our community. Today’s announcement is an exciting next step forward in this commitment.”

When Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast, Airbnb altered its website to ensure hosts could take in displaced neighbors for free. In 2013, Airbnb expanded these efforts with a disaster response initiative that makes it easy for Airbnb hosts to provide space for people in need at little or no cost when disasters strike.

Airbnb has previously launched the initiative in San Diego in response to major fires, in Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia for people affected by the Balkan floods, in London, Sardinia, and Colorado after serious flooding hit these regions, in Kefalonia after an earthquake hit the island, in Toronto and Atlanta following severe ice storms, and in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan.

The new partnerships will help our community collaborate with regional disaster relief organizations in advance of an event, reach a broader audience and help more people during an emergency. We are currently exploring additional partnerships and look forward to announcing additional initiatives in the future.

About Airbnb

Founded in August of 2008 and based in San Francisco, California, Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world – online or from a mobile phone. Whether an apartment for a night, a castle for a week, or a villa for a month, Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences, at any price point, in more than 35,000 cities and 190 countries. And with world-class customer service and a growing community of users, Airbnb is the easiest way for people to monetize their extra space and showcase it to an audience of millions.