I had a very surprising phone call yesterday. It was from a volunteer for red cross, sounded like an older lady. She said that she had heard about my listing and seen it from the road. She asked if it would be possible to meet her to discuss the use of the house by Red Cross in case of a family losing their home due to fire or flooding...or other disaster. I explained to her that my minimum stay was 2 days and the maximum 22 days. I also told her that one family asked to stay at my listing because the pipes froze and burst in their house and they needed to move out, and that I had to refuse accommodation because they could not give me fixed reservation dates. I explained that my listing was similar to a hotel, that I had to have reservations for specific dates and if a family wanted dates that were already reserved I would have to refuse them. She was annoyed and told me that she understands that I do not want to rent to families in distress and hung up! Wow.....
Has anyone else had such a request from Red Cross?
Can't be sure she was indeed from the Red Cross via the phone. I have never met in person someone truly from the Red Cross (or Salvation Army) act so 'aggressive'. It doesn't stand to reason.
I am wondering that. Such an unusal request. And you'd think they would be aware of the fact the listing needs definate reservation dates. That's why I was asking if any other hosts have had Red Cross request accommodation for families in distress.
How did she get your number?
I would have replied slightly differently, I would have mentioned AirBnB does not allow third party bookings, that she can see what my availablity and pricing is on AirBnb and I do not discriminate so whether a family is on holiday or in distress is not relevant to me.
She asked around locally, I guess. She didn't try through Airbnb. Everybody in my small town knows me. I always ask potential guests that I do not know that they have to book through Airbnb or Vrbo, but this lady wanted to book directly with me for Red Cross.
The way I see it is that our listings are a business and therefore letting takes priority.
However if the listing is not being used for letting then it may be possible to allow it to be used for other purposes. We are away as it is our family pre-Christmas get together. A homeless friend is staying in one of our places. Not a street sleeper but a guy whose new place is not ready.
We may do the same again but it is our choice about who stays. Not some busy body volunteer.
My goodness, @Monica4, what a fiend you are! Unwilling to kick out guests with reservations so that you might accommodate a hypothetical family distressed by a hypothetical disaster as proposed by a cold-caller on the telephone?!
If you are curious, you might call the local Red Cross and ask whether they have someone (did she give a name?) assigned to circumvent, in this way, the professional routes to obtaining emergency housing.
Will you write to say whether you do that?
@Monica4, perhaps she was vague about her intentions, but what exactly was she asking you to do?
Did she want you to keep your listing empty in case a disaster happened and they needed to place a family with you?
Or did she figure you would keep renting it out, but be ready to kick out whatever paying guest was on site in case there was an emergency? (And, of course, cancel any upcoming reservations.)
Which was it?
Also I looked for any stories involving AirBnB working with the Red Cross. I found a few, but nothing sounded like what this person was pitching. AirBnB had a program related to the wildfires in the North Bay (near us in San Francisco), but again that was nothing like what this person was looking for.
Years ago I used to volunteer for a combination of Red Cross and provincial emergency program (PEP) in British Columbia, Canada. As emergency coordinator I would reach out to hotels to see if they would be willing to House people in emergency. Of course they would be compensated through Red Cross or emergency Social Services. Both of which funded the provincial emergency program during emergencies. I can't imagine someone treating you rudely but they could have been legitimate. If anyone approached me with that type of offer I would let them know that I would help them with bookings as long as my rooms have not already been pre-booked. Red Cross has many local volunteers, if you're unsure you can always ask for their information and check them out higher up before committing.
Pretty strange. We cooperate periodically with the Red Cross accommodating refugees. Of course, the accomodation is fully paid by the organization. Their representatives normally call us asking about availability for X people X days, if we have no availability, I suppose, they call next host / accommodation option from their list. They are always very polite and they respect the conditions of the host.
During Harvey in Texas I know AirBnB was actually working with relief shelters in renting out homes for people evacuating from Galveston, Corpus Christi, etc. We did not get any calls, but we are in the San Antonio area which was borderline to have issues also with flooding and such. I have a canel at the back end of my property which really had me concerned. We did the sandbags to be safe because my venue could have gotten water from the overflow. The rain was never ending.
I know this an old topic, but for those of you who have come across this thread I wanted to come back and provide an update. The Red Cross, has partnered with Airbnb's Open Homes Program, which enables our host community to offer free, temporary housing to those who've left their home due to conflict, disasters or medical care. This is a voluntary program and already, an incredible 11,000 people have been given a temporary home as part of this.
Since this post was created, we have updated the Open Homes webpage, which provides more information to hosts on how it works and how to get involved, so if you are interested in finding out more, please click here.
Looking to contact our Support Team, for details...take a look at the Community Help Guides.