The heartbreaking images streaming from Ukraine make us want to help. But how? Sending donations, either in the form of items or money, is one form of aid, but many of us wonder how long it will take for the assistance to arrive when the need is so immediate. While donations are very much needed, one grassroots way to get cash into the hands of Ukrainian residents instantly is by booking an Airbnb for a few days or weeks with no intention of showing. People have begun doing this and sending messages such as: “I just booked your listing in Kyiv. Of course, I won’t be showing, but I wanted to help.”
With over 300 listings, there is a lot of choice. Usually, there are fees between 3 and 15 percent, but for the Ukraine listings, Airbnb has opted to waive both the guest and host fees so all of the money goes to the host.
The idea is catching on rapidly. According to Airbnb, in the two day period between March 2 and March 3, over 61,000 nights have been reserved, totaling close to $2 million. 34,000 nights were booked by users in the United States, followed by over 8,000 nights booked by the United Kingdom and 3,000 reservations placed by Canadians.
Keep in Mind
When searching for bookings, be sure to look for listings in places other than the major cities. These people tend to be less well off and use the rentals to supplement income. One clue is to look for shared spaces, either rooms or houses. Often, these are located in the smaller villages and towns and are priced very low.
Look for listings that are owned by individuals and not companies. Hotel chains also offer rooms on the site, and the idea is to connect with and support individuals. To avoid scammers or landlords who are not local, the platform allows messaging the hosts directly about ownership. Avoid accounts that have been set up very recently as these can be scammers who are attempting to cash in on the trend. Examine the listing to see if the host has been operating for at least a few months and has reviews.
Booking a no-go stay is by no means the only way to assist. It is part of a multi-pronged approach, along with those of established humanitarian agencies, to help financially strapped citizens. If you are able to host a refugee yourself or if you want to contribute toward sheltering the displaced, a support network is available.