Airbnb helps to house displaced storm victims in Missouri

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OLEAN - As natural disasters swept through Missouri, some people are unable to stay in their homes.

Flood victims stay in shelters, motels, or with friends, but Airbnb, a popular rental service, is offering to give them somewhere to settle for free.

"Do you need emergency housing? Or can you host community members in need of temporary housing?," Airbnb asks in a Facebook ad. The service offers to let people choose between finding housing or signing up to offer their home.

Bryan, an Airbnb host from Moberly, said he saw the advertisement about a month ago and immediately signed up.

"If we were willing to care for a family like that, as long as that's available for our calendar, that'd be something my family will be willing to do," he said.  

Bryan said no one had contacted him yet. 

"Probably, many of these folks don't have Airbnb profiles," he said. 

Kevin George is also participating as a host in the program. He said no one has tried to sign up for his apartment either. George said he thinks the reason is the location - he is offering to house people for free in Olean, a small town that is five miles away from Eldon. 

"We're just a little bit off the main road," he said. 

It is not the first time Airbnb has helped victims of natural disasters find temporary housing. Bryan said his parents in Georgia got the same message after a hurricane hit Atlanta last year. He said they also opened up their home.

"Airbnb sent an e-mail to hosts. I heard that they would open up homes for people to be able to come and stay," he said. "That's when my parents signed up."

Bryan said no one contacted his parents when they participated either. 

"A lot of it is just stigma of going into someone else's home without knowing who it is," Bryan said. "Maybe, there are some people who are just too proud to ask."

Despite the lack of responses in Missouri, both hosts said their doors will remain open for people who need it. 

The Airbnb program to settle storm and flood victims in Missouri will continue until June 20. Airbnb representatives said they might prolong the offer if the weather situation worsens.