Preparing to host refugee guests with Airbnb.org
When moving to a new country, refugees and asylum seekers are faced with understanding a new culture while handling many logistics, like finalizing paperwork and searching for jobs. Often, caseworkers at Airbnb.org’s nonprofit partners assist refugee clients with these crucial tasks, and help them find permanent housing. At times, refugees and asylum seekers have to navigate these challenges themselves.
As a Host, you can be part of a pivotal moment in someone’s life by offering a safe and comfortable place to stay while they temporarily settle into a new environment until they can develop a plan for their future and regain a sense of normalcy.
In this article, you’ll find tips on how to prepare to host guests who are rebuilding their lives. These recommendations are based on advice from other Hosts who have welcomed refugee guests, and from nonprofit caseworkers who assist refugee clients.
1. Clearly communicate details about your place
Prior to booking, a nonprofit caseworker from one of Airbnb.org’s nonprofit partners—such as the IRC and HIAS—or a prospective guest who has received a paid booking voucher may reach out to you to confirm details about your space. To facilitate this, please ensure your listing details are complete and current, and respond promptly to any inquiries.
It’s important to be aware that during a refugee crisis, such as the one currently impacting the people of Ukraine, the need for housing is urgent and immediate. In some cases, Airbnb.org booking requests may be for stays of 30 days or more, beginning just a day or two after the guest’s initial outreach.
During the booking process, you can ask the guest or caseworker questions, and if the need arises, you’ll also have access to Airbnb.org's specially trained support team.
2. Understand that refugee guests may need extra support
Nonprofit partners often provide their clients with necessary basics like food and transportation, and access to important services like healthcare, job placement, and long-term housing assistance.
Due to the large scale of the Ukraine refugee resettlement effort, the demand for these support services is extremely high. Guests are encouraged to first make an effort to take care of these basics on their own, so that support can be provided to those individuals with the greatest need.
As a Host, you may choose to provide guidance on local resources to help your guests acclimate to their new community, though that’s certainly not required.
“I went into practical mode as a mom,” says Host Sarah of Vancouver, Canada. “Did they need clothes? Should we put food in the fridge? Are they going to want help with grocery shopping?” She sent these questions to her guests’ nonprofit caseworker, who messaged back to say that the family she would be hosting might appreciate extra blankets and small toys for the children.
With his Ukrainian heritage and previous experience hosting refugees through Airbnb.org, Host Adam of Ontario, Canada, was quick to offer housing to people fleeing the conflict in Ukraine. In addition to hosting his own space and the properties he manages, Adam says he’s happy to help guests rebuild their lives by connecting them with Ukrainian culture and community in his area, like shops, churches, and professional development classes at the local Ukrainian community center. “I’ll ask them, ‘What did you do back home?’ and try to point them in the right direction,” he says.
3. Be mindful of privacy
The degree of privacy each individual or family prefers will vary, just as it would with any other Airbnb guest. Identifying areas of your home where guests can relax privately or connect as a family—a den, backyard, or other space—can ease the transition and help them feel welcome.
“The family [we hosted] could be as self-contained or social as they wanted,” Sarah says. “We were friendly if we saw them in the garden or putting groceries away, but we gave them space to do their own thing.”
4. Observe COVID-19 health and safety protocols
Airbnb has introduced guidelines and programs to help Hosts provide a safer stay. Here are some key takeaways:
- Wear a mask and practice social distancing when required by local laws and guidelines
- Follow Airbnb’s 5-step enhanced cleaning process between each stay
- Don’t travel or host if you’ve recently been exposed to or have symptoms of COVID-19
5. Get more resources
Refugee guests may have experienced serious hardships as a part of their journey. If you’re interested in learning more about refugee experiences, check out these resources recommended by our nonprofit partners:
Frequently Asked Questions
How are those fleeing Ukraine booking their temporary stays?
Once a person or family has been identified as in need of temporary housing, a nonprofit caseworker may assist them with booking a stay, or the guest may receive a booking voucher, enabling them to book temporary accommodations on their own.
Hosts may be notified during the booking process when a reservation request is for emergency housing through Airbnb.org.
How long should I expect to provide housing for refugee guests?
Airbnb.org stays are typically booked for a few days up to a few weeks. However, as millions of people are fleeing Ukraine, nonprofit and government agencies are handling a high volume of aid requests, necessitating stays of 30 days or more for some guests.
Some cities have waived length-of-stay caps for refugee housing— to find out what regulations apply in your area, please contact the relevant local authorities.
What happens after a refugee guest’s stay ends?
During a refugee guest’s temporary stay, they may be working to plan next steps for establishing their lives in a new location, including finding longer-term accommodations.
Guests have direct access to Airbnb.org’s specialized support team, who work closely with local nonprofit organizations for additional support if needed.
Due to the unprecedented scale of the Ukraine crisis, nonprofit organizations must prioritize offering additional assistance to individuals they assess as having the highest need. At this time, it is impossible to guarantee that every guest will be able to receive longer-term support.
In the event that a guest needs additional temporary housing at the end of their stay, they may contact Airbnb.org to request up to two weeks of additional accommodations.
How do people become eligible for emergency stays?
Airbnb.org often works with nonprofit organizations and resettlement agencies specializing in crisis response and refugee resettlement to facilitate on-the-ground support, including assessing the needs and eligibility of potential guests.
Airbnb.org guests booking temporary accommodations on their own are required to set up an Airbnb account, which may include identity verification checks.
How does Airbnb.org hosting impact my Superhost status?
For the April 1, 2022 Superhost assessment (including data from April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022):
- Airbnb.org bookings will add to your total number of stays.
- Airbnb.org bookings will not impact the other factors considered during quarterly Superhost assessments, including reviews, cancellations, and responsiveness.
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