Airbnb Partners With New York City Nonprofit To Fight Homelessness

July 6th, 2016  |  Source: Forbes

Airbnb is taking a stab at reducing homelessness in the Big Apple. The online home and room rental company has donated $100,000 to WIN, a New York City-based organization devoted to providing shelter and support services to homeless women and their children. Led by former New York City councilwoman Christine Quinn, WIN, formerly called Women In Need, is the biggest organization working to reduce homelessness in the city, which has more than 12,000 homeless families. It currently houses over 5,400 women and children and works to create opportunities beyond housing like professional development.

In addition to its donation, Airbnb – cofounded by Brian CheskyNathan Blecharczyk and Joe Gebbia – will participate in a variety of WIN’s programs and recruit volunteers from its host and guest pool. Airbnb volunteers will focus on introducing women to the professional world and increasing literacy amongst their kids.

WIN has a vigorous preparation program for its Airbnb volunteers who will be put through an orientation and then will work with counselors and experts on workshops that teach women skills; including resume building and interviewing for jobs. Ms. Johnson, a client of WIN since 2011, is one of the women who have benefitted from similar workshops. She has always imagined having a career – not simply a job, and thanks to WIN, she said at a recent WIN event, she now knows “about budgeting, about credit, and how to interview for a job.” She also says she knows how to handle her older son better as a result of the training.

WIN CEO Quinn says her organization “erases the myth about homeless New Yorkers, and replaces them with the truth – that these moms are working hard every day to make sure their children have a better future.” Airbnb’s Head of Public Policy in New York, Josh Meltzer, told FORBES that the company is proud to have partnered with WIN and that it supports “WIN’s work helping those most in need, and deeply understands that permanent housing is a vital link to strong communities.”

Airbnb has grown rapidly since it was founded in 2008, and now operates in 191 countries. As it has grown, it has come under attack from city authorities around the world, including in Barcelona, San Francisco and New York City, due to some of its rental listings that may have violated local housing regulations. In mid-June, the New York State Senate passed a bill that would fine Airbnb hosts up to $7,500 if they advertise renting certain homes and apartments for less than 30 days. Airbnb’s efforts to help the homeless in New York City are one way the company may be able to build good will in a state where it has raised the ire of lawmakers.

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