Bethany Christian Services seeks Airbnbs for refugees

Grand Rapids
Bethany Christian Services a 091715_123631

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — One of the world’s largest Christian service agencies is turning to Airbnb owners to provide safe and adequate emergency housing for people fleeing other countries.

Grand Rapids-based Bethany Christian Services is working with the home rental site’s “Open Homes” program to identify owners willing to donate space to individuals and families from other countries.

“Refugees often flee their country with minimal supplies, sometimes with just the clothes on their back, and with no access to essential resources like food and shelter,” Chris Palusky, president and CEO for Bethany Christian Services, said. “Having seen first-hand the challenges facing refugee families, we’re grateful to Airbnb for initiating its Open Homes program and partnering with Bethany.”

Owners can donate any space, even only a bedroom, to the cause. Owners sign up through the Open Homes program. For families willing to volunteer their homes, Airbnb provides screening and background checks, insurance, reimbursement for any property damage should it occur, and 24 hour-a-day phone support.

Bethany workers often have to scramble to find suitable emergency shelter when new families arrive in West Michigan, especially larger families. Having a bank of dedicated Airbnb owners will help alleviate that situation.

Bethany has already placed a few families with Airbnb owners, but now hopes to develop a larger pool of homes thanks to the official partnership with the company.

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