MAY 28, 2019 9:05 AM PDT

Free Housing for Cancer Patients: Airbnb's "Game Changer"

WRITTEN BY: Julia Travers

Cancer patients who meet certain requirements can now stay in some of Airbnb rentals for free, thanks to an expansion of Airbnb’s Open Homes for Medical Stays program. This initiative is part of Airbnb’s larger Open Homes initiative, which gives people around the world a place to live temporarily, when they are struggling, “Whether it’s newlyweds who lost their home in a wildfire, a cancer patient who needs to be closer to specialty care, or a family fleeing conflict in their home country… ”

The Open Homes for Medical Stays program launched in 2018 and gives Airbnb hosts the option of opening their homes freely to people who need to travel for medical treatment and recovery. Airbnb is now collaborating with the Cancer Support Community and the Bone Marrow and Cancer Foundation to help out more cancer patients through the program. These organizations both serve people with cancer  and will now be able to connect them with the Airbnb service. Also, to address cases in which Airbnb’s free Open Homes rentals are booked or unavailable, the company has granted more than $1.2 million in grants to the groups to aid patients with travel costs.

Rental room, credit: public domain

"We know that the cost of temporary accommodations can be a major barrier to receiving treatment for critical illnesses," Joe Gebbia, co-founder and chief product officer of Airbnb, said.

To participate, patients must meet criteria relating to travel distance and income. And, the treatment and travel needs must be verified and signed in the program application by a medical professional like a nurse, oncologist or medical social worker. Medical stays typically last between five days and two weeks.

family in a bed, credit: public domain

"The Cancer Support Community fields thousands of calls from individuals who are struggling to cover the cost of traveling for treatments, scans, clinical trials and other medically necessary care," said Cancer Support Community CEO Kim Thiboldeaux said. He calls Airbnb’s support “a game-changer.”

Approximately 2,000 people have now used the Open Homes for Medical Stays offerings. Throughout the entire Open Homes initiative, Airbnb aims to temporarily house about 100,000 people by 2022.

Sources: Airbnb, WebMD

About the Author
Julia Travers is a writer, artist and teacher. She frequently covers science, tech, conservation and the arts. She enjoys solutions journalism. Find more of her work at jtravers.journoportfolio.com.
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