Virginians to host Afghan refugees via Airbnb.org
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Refugees from Afghanistan could soon be your new temporary neighbor!
The philanthropic branch of Airbnb (Airbnb.org) has partnered with homeowners to provide temporary housing for families fleeing the Taliban and coming to the U.S.
The goal is to be able to host up to 20,000 refugees around the world; in the U.S. those locations include California, New York and Virginia.
Specifically in Virginia, Airbnb.org will work with the group Women for Afghan Women to connect refugees to free, temporary housing.
“Airbnb.org’s support will help us provide Afghan women and girls a dignified beginning as they start to rebuild their lives in the US. Women for Afghan Women will be there with them, side-by-side, until they can stand on their own,” said Naheed Samadi Bahram, US Country Director at Women for Afghan Women.
Women for Afghan Women (WAW) is a grassroots organization dedicated to protecting and promoting the rights of disenfranchised Afghan women and girls in Afghanistan and New York.
So far across Virginia, hundreds of people have signed up to open their doors.
“I believe to date, we’ve had over 300 Virginians alone, who have signed up to offer housing to Afghan refugees,” said Airbnb spokeswoman Liz Fusco.
Where exactly in Virginia was not immediately available, but Fusco said there’s a big need in one specific area of the state.
“We are certainly seeing a need in Northern Virginia,” she said.
That location is likely due to the planes landing at Dulles carrying those refugees who evacuated.
However, this effort to house refugees is not a new mission for the company.
“[We’ve] mobilized to provide housing to those displaced by crisis, through flood, fire, earthquake,” Fusco said. “In the immediate wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, they provided 225,000 places to stay for frontline responders.”
Now, the company is looking for more people to open their homes for free for up to 20,000 refugees worldwide.
“These individuals essentially left their homes with absolutely nothing and they’re coming to the U.S., in this case, to start over,” Fusco said. “Providing housing and really welcoming someone to the community is one of the best ways to do that – start this new chapter of their life on the right foot.”
While the company has seen mounting numbers in those wanting to help, Fusco does understand concerns some may have.
“All refugees are eligible, their health is being monitored by the U.S. state department, there is a very clear process that is in place that is being followed here by our partners,” she said.
According to Fusco, refugees are also working with caseworkers through the nine major US resettlement agencies to help house Afghan refugees. Those agencies include Church World Service (CWS), Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC), Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM), Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), International Rescue Committee (IRC), US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS), United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and World Relief Corporation (WR).
The temporary housing in Virginia would be in addition to the temporary housing on several military bases.
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