Today, the City of Seattle and Airbnb announced a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will help the City identify and activate Airbnb hosts to offer free accommodations during a disaster or other emergency. The agreement also connects Airbnb with the Office of Emergency Management’s (OEM) AlertSeattle system, to disseminate public safety alerts to hosts and people visiting Seattle.
“Today we are announcing a new, innovative partnership that will help people during an emergency and make Seattle more resilient,” said Deputy Mayor Kate Joncas. “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.”
The MOU was signed between OEM (which is an affiliated office of the Seattle Police Department) and Airbnb. The agreement allows OEM to work directly with Airbnb Disaster Response to arrange for free accommodations for displaced people or emergency responders in need of housing. The program will rely on Airbnb hosts who have volunteered to participate.
“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.”
The agreement also calls for OEM to work with Airbnb to provide emergency-related information for hosts and guests through the AlertSeattle system, increases awareness of local hazards and emergency procedures for guests and hosts, and creates opportunities for hosts to join disaster preparedness trainings provided by the City. Full text of the MOU can be found here.