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July 30, 2014

Airbnb will provide shelter from the San Franciscan storm

Lodging app and website will look for charitable hosts on US west coast.

By Jimmy Nicholls

Lodging website Airbnb will help provide disaster relief to the residents of San Francisco and Portland under a new agreement announced yesterday.

As part of the deal Airbnb will identify hosts willing to take on guests in the event of a disaster, as well as providing educational materials and notifications through its website and mobile app.

Brian Chesky, chief executive of Airbnb, said: "When Superstorm Sandy hit the east coast 1,400 Airbnb hosts in New York opened doors and cooked meals for those left stranded.

"We were inspired by these stories to build a disaster response initiative with our community."

The company has responded to previous emergencies in Europe, North America and Asia by altering its products to help connect hosts to disaster victims.

Yet concerns have emerged around the service, with a California resident recently finding herself unable to evict a guest who had stayed past his 44 day rental of her home.

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"The sharing economy was born here in the innovation capital of the world, and its growth is leveraging technology and innovation to connect people and help our city become more prepared and resilient against disaster," said San Francisco mayor Ed Lee.

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales described the charitable nature of the project as "such a Portland thing", adding that it matched the city’s spirit "perfectly."

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