Airbnb helps Haifa fire evacuees find places to stay
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Airbnb helps Haifa fire evacuees find places to stay

Online homesharing company joins local hotels and guest houses, waives fees for offering accommodation to victims

People carry their belongings inside a supermarket cart as they evacuate from wildfires in Haifa, Israel, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2016.  (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
People carry their belongings inside a supermarket cart as they evacuate from wildfires in Haifa, Israel, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Airbnb has set up an emergency service to help match people willing to open their houses and apartments with those left homeless by the wave of fires that is sweeping across Israel, the company said Friday.

“In light of the recent events in Israel we want to let you know we’ll be waiving all service fees and enabling hosts to list for free,” Airbnb said in a notice emailed to users.

The international company is joining the thousands of regular Israelis who have opened up their homes, hotels and guest houses across the country. More than 75,000 people were evacuated from Haifa Thursday as flames hit 11 neighborhoods.

Most have not been allowed to return and more than 600 homes were damaged, 37 of them destroyed.

Airbnb set up “disaster response” page to help match hosts with guests and said those hosting for free would still be covered by standard Airbnb insurance policies. They would also be able to choose to accept or reject applicants in the normal manner.

Thankful for companies like this! – emailed to me just now

Posted by Rebecca K Morgan on Thursday, 24 November 2016

For now the deal runs until December 3, Airbnb said. it has a similar program for those affected by the recent earthquake in New Zealand.

Dozens of organizations and local councils, including the Islamic Movement in Israel, the Kibbutz Movement, the Bnei Akiva youth movement and the Zionist Union party, set up services to enable the public to host evacuees in their homes.

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