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September 16, 2016

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Boulder County Partners with Airbnb to Strengthen Community Disaster Response Capacity

Collaborative effort will provide temporary housing options and enhance information-sharing during emergencies

Boulder County, Colo. - Through a unique collaboration designed to strengthen our
community’s emergency preparedness, the Boulder County Department of Housing
& Human Services (BCDHHS) has partnered with web-based housing platform Airbnb
Inc. to provide local access to temporary housing and information on response during
times of disaster.

As part of the collaboration, Airbnb helps identify hosts
who are willing to open their homes and provide free housing for those who are
displaced by disaster and service workers who are in the area to help with the
response. Airbnb activates mobile and web technology to notify both hosts and
guests about significant hazardous events in their area. Those impacted by a
disaster as well as emergency responders can then work directly with willing
hosts to find temporary housing. BCDHHS can also help connect people in need
with the Airbnb resource following a disaster.

“Three years ago, our community was hit hard by historic and
devastating flooding,” said BCDHHS Director Frank Alexander. “The lack of
short-term housing for those displaced from their homes was one of the biggest
challenges our neighbors faced in the days and weeks that followed. This
collaboration with Airbnb helps provide a grassroots way for community members to
help each other during a disaster.”

In the partnership agreement, Airbnb has also committed to
providing trainings to help cultivate its hosts as emergency response leaders
within their neighborhoods. Airbnb is also distributing disaster and emergency
preparedness educational materials to its hosts.

“Opening doors to people who need a place to stay is in the
DNA of the Airbnb community,” said Kellie Bentz, Head of Global Disaster
Response & Relief for Airbnb. “When Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast,
1,400 Airbnb hosts in New York opened doors and cooked meals for those left
stranded. We were inspired by these stories to build a disaster response
initiative with our community. This agreement with Boulder County is an
exciting next step forward in this commitment.”

Airbnb has a dozen similar collaborative arrangements with local
and regional governments around the world, including Victoria, Australia, and
Auckland, New Zealand, as well as Portland, Oregon and San Francisco,
California. This partnership represents the first of its kind in Colorado.

The Airbnb emergency response platform was
activated in the days after the recent Cold Springs Fire near Nederland. Over
1,500 hosts around the area were alerted to the possibility of helping through
the company’s Disaster Response Program by providing their properties for
temporary housing at no cost for those displaced by the fire.

“Throughout
all of our recent disasters, from the 2010 Fourmile Fire to the 2013 Flood to
this summer’s Cold Springs Fire, we’ve seen an outpouring of community support
and generous offers to help those most affected,” said Mike Chard, Director of
the Boulder Office of Emergency Management. “This unique partnership with
Airbnb will provide a tangible way for people to help us respond to and recover
from future emergencies, building a more connected and resilient Boulder
County.”

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