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Airbnb introduces free, reduced housing option for COVID-19 responders

Healthcare workers who’ve been fighting the coronavirus don’t want to expose their families, but also don’t have many options of alternative places to stay.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — If you have a home, apartment, or condo that’s unused right now, Airbnb is providing a way for you to allow COVID-19 responders to use it.

The decision to stay at home or live somewhere else is one healthcare workers and first responders increasingly have to make.

“It’s tough, you want to be around your family but you also don’t want to do anything that could be harmful to them,” said Richard Pomerantz, a local pulmonary critical care physician.

Pomerantz said the coronavirus crisis has refilled his formerly empty nest.

“My two sons came home from college, my daughter who worked in New York is actually at home now working from home, so the house got pretty crowded,” Pomerantz said. 

Pomerantz said initially he was cleaning off before coming home and keeping his distance, but the risk became too great.

“When I first started taking care of people bedside is when I decided that I needed to keep myself apart,” Pomerantz said. “If something happened to my family, I could really never forgive myself."

With few options, Pomerantz is now living at the hospital he works at.

“I’ve been here for a little over a week now,” Pomerantz said. “When this first started, actually we started looking around to see if we could even rent and the apartment just for a couple of months. The primary answer was, we don’t want to risk that.”

Now, Airbnb is trying to fill the need with Frontline Stays.  

Anyone with an entire unoccupied space can offer it up to COIVD 19 responders at a free or deeply discounted rate.

“That’s fantastic, I mean it’s incredibly generous for people to do that,” Pomerantz said.

Through the program, AirNBN would verify a user is a COVID-19 responder and when they search for a home, the system will apply the owner’s discount for them.

“People aren’t traveling now anyway, so if they have a home for this it’s an amazing thing to donate,” Pomerantz said.

Airbnb would ask the owner to commit to an extensive cleaning checklist and wait 72 hours between reservations.

“It’s perfect really because you have to be able to use the restroom, use the kitchen, I mean you have to still live,” Pomerantz said.

Airbnb is waiving fees for the first 100,000 bookings for COVID-19 responders through this program. For more information click here.


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