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This article was published on June 11, 2013

Airbnb announces new emergency housing tool to help those in need during natural disasters

Airbnb announces new emergency housing tool to help those in need during natural disasters Image by: Spencer Platt
Harrison Weber
Story by

Harrison Weber

Harrison Weber is TNW's Features Editor in NYC. Part writer, part designer. Stay in touch: Twitter @harrisonweber, Google+ and Email. Harrison Weber is TNW's Features Editor in NYC. Part writer, part designer. Stay in touch: Twitter @harrisonweber, Google+ and Email.

After hacking together a tool to connect Hurricane Sandy victims with emergency housing, Airbnb has announced a greatly expanded solution for areas affected by natural disasters.

According to Airbnb, its new tool allows locals with space to donate it to those in need, and can be “activated anywhere in the world in 30 minutes or less.” Bookings in these areas will not have fees, and Airbnb says it will help displaced guests find hosts by providing ways for them to reach out.

The quick roll out appears to be especially important, given the lack of connectivity during emergencies. Airbnb says it spoke with organizations like IDEO and the Department of Emergency Management in San Francisco while building this solution.

Of course, such a tool could also make a great impression on local governments — that’s an added bonus — but emergency housing is clearly an immense problem, and a tool like this could make a real difference in areas affected by natural disasters.

For more, check out Airbnb’s partnership with New York City during Sandy, and the startup’s good news in Amsterdam.

Image credit: Spencer Platt / Getty Images