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Airbnb ‘significantly expands’ Open Homes Program for Michael evacuees, relief workers

Airbnb again expanded it Open Homes Program for residents displaced by Hurricane Michael as well as relief workers in town to assist with recovery efforts. The program provides free temporary housing in participating hosts’ homes.

The activation zone now includes three states – Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina – and has been expanded to include all of Georgia and most of Alabama and Florida.

As part of the program, Airbnb hosts agree to open their homes free of charge and the company also waives its part of the usual fees as well as state and local taxes.

Airbnb expanded its zone in Florida as close to Bay County and Florida’s western coastal communities as possible to provide easy accommodations for residents affected and relief workers helping.

In Alabama, rooms and homes are available in Mobile, Montgomery, Dothan and Auburn/Opelika areas. Biloxi and Gulfport areas in Mississippi are also accepting evacuees.

All of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina are included in the activation area.

More than 800 Airbnb hosts are participating.

People looking for a place to say can find available listings on Airbnb’s Hurricane Michael website. Residents in areas not impacted by the storm within the activation area can also register there to become a host.

The listings are available until October 29, but hosts do not have to participate for the entire period. This response began October 8, before the storm hit. Airbnb is continuing to communicate with emergency management officials in Florida, Alabama and Georgia and is beginning to reach out to officials in North and South Carolina and will continue expanding its activation area if the need arises and if local officials request it.

Airbnb’s disaster relief program launched in 2012 following Hurricane Sandy and has since become a global program to help connect willing hosts with people displaced by disaster.

The company has responded to more than 250 disasters worldwide since its inception including Hurricane Florence and Tropical Storm Gordon.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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