First Responders Offered Free Housing from Airbnb for Coronavirus Concerns

Airbnb became a hugely profitable company by offering their services as a marketplace for arranging places to stay and eat for individuals traveling. Their yearly revenue is over $2.5 billion, and the company is worth many times more than that. Early Thursday, March 26, Airbnb announced that some of their money will be going to assist in the COVID-19 pandemic currently sweeping the globe.

Airbnb are working with people who own homes with rooms, lodges, bed and breakfast establishments, etc, to ensure that first responders can stay there for free, as they work to fight back against the Coronavirus.

The company has many thousands of different hosts with whom they work closely to arrange paid stays. For this sort of third-party arrangement, Airbnb typically gets a percentage of the owner’s profits, and also a variety of membership fees. So the company is a great position to negotiate such matters with their thousands of contacts. In Italy and France alone, Airbnb has worked with close to 6,000 hosts to have free rooms offered to first responders and those waging the war against COVID-19.

Called the “Open Homes platform,” and created in 2012, Airbnb are dusting this old policy back off in order to waive any fees that a guest may have to pay. The stipulations here, of course, include being an actual first responder. Ambulance and EMT workers, police, fire fighters, charity workers, etc; these are the individuals who may have to travel to help in the fight, and these are the individuals Airbnb are trying to help.

In a statement released by Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia, the company is doing this because “Medical workers and first responders are [saving lives] during the Corona outbreak,” continuing to state that they just want to help and have heard that many hosts are willing to offer their support, as now is the time to come together and defeat this nasty, potentially deadly virus.

Government Legislation on Housing

While this is objectively a good thing that Airbnb are doing, particularly considering that most of the people helping now are volunteering their time or are working unpaid hours, fears throughout the world continue to peak due to uncertainty. For instance, what are people going to do if they’re out of work, don’t have money, and get evicted from their homes?

As the 2008 financial crisis reminded the world, mortgage companies do not care one iota about putting families out on the streets. They want every penny they can scrape up, before turning around and begging the government to give them taxpayers’ money on top as a sweetener. Politicians in America’s Congress, on both sides of the aisle, have considered this to be a very damaging virus for homeowners and renters alike.

This is why a bipartisan measure started to make its way through the House of Representatives, forcing mortgage lenders and landlords to eat their losses, just like everyone else, making it illegal to evict someone for nonpayment of rent/mortgage due to the crisis. However, before the bill could make its way across the House floor, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, both long-time Democrat Representatives, filled the bill to the point of bursting with measures unaffiliated whatsoever with the Coronavirus.

The “Pelosi Add-Ons,” as they’re being labeled now, included forgiving student loan debt, forcing airlines to offset their carbon emissions, and guaranteeing same-day voting after registration, without the use of an ID or even a social security number.

Republicans quickly shot this down, and let it be known from the Senate that it would never make it to President Trump, because it was stuffed with dozens upon dozens of pet projects for the Democrats, and very little actually concerning the Coronavirus. Republicans claim that Democrats are using this crisis in order to shore up their election chances for November; and speaking from a factual basis, they do not deny this and instead insist on adding more special interests and pet projects to further bills.

Imitative Plans Moving Forward

The good news is that bipartisan support is there for a quite a few things upon which both parties agree. Stimulus spending for citizens, making it illegal to evict people, and ensuring Americans can get basic necessities are among the items that are receiving support. Though to date, Pelosi and her team show no signs of relenting when it comes to filling the bill with over $100 billion in spending for projects entirely unrelated to the Coronavirus.

The gridlock and pettiness of Washington stands in stark contrast to the needful altruism of Airbnb.

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