The new website EmergencyBnB was inspired by its founder, Amr Arafa, who loaned people of crisis – refugees and victims of domestic violence – his home in Washington D.C. He wanted to form a website where people in need can turn to for a temporary place to stay.
Trying out the model, Mr. Arafa first listed his apartment on Airbnb last year for the cheapest amount possible and said that he only would accept guests that were refugees or victims of domestic violence (he would later refund the money). A Syrian couple living in Texas were the perfect match — they needed a place to stay while they attended a court hearing for an asylum case. When Mr. Arafa has a guest, he either books a hotel for himself, stays with friends or is out of town for work.
“Staying at a stranger’s place is not something I would have normally done, but you get to a place of desperation,” says a female guest who was the victim of domestic abuse. “I don’t think anyone could do this because it takes trust on both sides. He’s taking a risk, and I’m taking a risk. It made me realize that people like him are rare, but they do exist.”
“EmergencyBnB is not about the government giving you a place to stay,” says Mr. Arafa . “It’s about the fact that your neighbors care about you.”