Airbnb attracts new hosts eager to house refugees

A year and half ago, Airbnb enlisted refugee housing guru Cameron Sinclair to help the company connect some of the world’s 65 million displaced persons with short-term housing. Last month, more than 16,000 people responded to Airbnb’s Super Bowl ad, #WeAccept, and offered to shared their homes with displaced persons.

Get this: 40 percent of them weren’t previously Airbnb hosts.

According to Sinclair, a major problem in settling refugees in the U.S. is that delays in processing mean housing options often fall through.

Paying for refugees to “spend their first nights in our country in a crap motel by the airport” costs the government $40 million a year.

If the short-term housing marketplace startup can tackle the challenge, the potential is huge: The number of displaced people could rise as high 325 million by 2047 “thanks to climate change,” Sinclair said at last week’s Near Future Summit.

Airbnb is on a march toward an initial public offering, which will test whether such initiatives are seen as good business or just good publicity.

“Airbnb’s kumbaya strategy will meet its ultimate test,” writes BackChannel’s Jessi Hempel.

This post originally appeared in ImpactAlpha's daily newsletter. Get The Brief.

Photo credit: Airbnb

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