"Free for refugees and Bernie Sanders." That's how Amr Arafa categorized his Washington, D.C. apartment when he listed it on Airbnb in November of last year. At a time when anti-refugee rhetoric was on the rise, Arafa sought to provide a sense of stability to those most in need. Knowing that offering up his own apartment was merely a drop in the bucket when it came to providing refugees with much-needed assistance, Arafa got to work on finding a more global solution. He has developed a website that aims to connect refugees and victims of domestic violence with a safe place to stay free of charge while they figure out their next step.
After using AirBnb to rent his apartment out free of charge (he reportedly refunds the $10 minimum price AirBnb requires hosts charge) to refugees and domestic violence victims, Arafa realized the need for a more long-term solution. To help refugees and other vulnerable communities around the world, Arafa created EmergencyBnB, a website modeled after AirBnb that aims to connect refugees and domestic violence victims with those willing to provide them with a free place to stay temporarily. The website allows hosts to offer entire apartments, private rooms, and even shared rooms as accommodation.
Driven by reports of the objectionable welcome some refugees received after fleeing violence in the Middle East, Arafa began coding EmergencyBnB at the tail end of 2015, according to ABC News. "Clicking and sharing to spread the word is a bare minimum, donating money is a step up," he told the news outlet. "But dedicating your core competency, whatever it is, towards a cause really does make a difference."