Partnering with the Seattle Office of Emergency Management

We are pleased to announce a new partnership with the Seattle Office of Emergency Management to help the City and Airbnb hosts and guests prepare for natural disasters and emergencies.

Airbnb hosts will provide free accommodations for people displaced during a disaster or other emergency, as well as emergency responders and other relief workers.

Partnerships are critical to helping a community prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. This is particularly important for a city like Seattle, which is at risk for a major Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake, and vulnerable to other disasters.

Through a partnership with an organization like the Seattle Office of Emergency Management, Airbnb is able to help mobilize the community to support disaster response efforts when needed and contribute to preparing the broader Seattle community for future disasters.

“This collaboration between the City and Airbnb makes our emergency response stronger, and improves our ability to help those who are affected by storms, earthquakes, and other emergencies. We are especially grateful to the Airbnb hosts willing to open their space to their neighbors and visitors in a time of need.”

Deputy Mayor Kate Joncas

“Opening doors to people who need a place to stay is in the spirit of the Airbnb community,” said Airbnb’s Head of Disaster Response and Relief, Kellie Bentz. “When Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast, 1,400 Airbnb hosts in New York opened their doors for those left stranded. The generosity of our community inspired our team to build a worldwide disaster response initiative. This agreement with the Seattle Office of Emergency Management is an exciting next step forward in this commitment.”

With over 321,000 guest arrivals over the last 12 months, members of Seattle’s growing Airbnb host community are happy to help.

“Airbnb has a network of potential housing already set up and hosts who love to go the extra mile and make a difference. That’s why we host travelers,” said Michele C., a host in Seattle. “I would absolutely host someone in need during a disaster for the simple reason that they have a need and I can fill the need. It is a simple way to be in service to the greater good.

An official Memorandum of Understanding signed by Seattle OEM and Airbnb allows the City to work directly with Airbnb’s Global Disaster Response and Relief team during disasters or emergencies.

Under the terms of the MOU, Airbnb will activate its disaster response tool:

  • Mobilize the Airbnb host community in the affected area, asking them if they are able to provide accommodations for free
  • Waive fees for these listings
  • Provide Airbnb’s 24/7 customer support, Trust & Safety tools, Host Guarantee and other services regularly available to Airbnb hosts
  • Provide general disaster response information to guests and hosts

The agreement also calls for OEM to work with Airbnb to increase awareness of local hazards and emergency procedures for guests and hosts:

  • Connect Airbnb with OEM’s Alert Seattle System AlertSeattle system, to disseminate public safety alerts to hosts and people visiting Seattle
  • Creates opportunities for hosts to join disaster preparedness trainings provided by the City

OEM hosted an emergency preparedness training for Airbnb hosts this summer.

The training session inspired host Sharon L. to retrofit her home so it is less likely to slide off its foundation in an earthquake.

“I learned that when “The Big One” arrives, the City of Seattle will be overwhelmed with emergency needs and the more we can do to reduce impacts through preparation, the better for the City and its citizens,” she said. “OEM considers 20 events in its scenario planning, including terrorism, floods, and snipers, but earthquake is #1 because of the severity and breadth of impact.  That made a huge impression on me.”

Full text of the MOU can be found here.