For survivors of domestic violence, one of the largest barriers to leaving abusive partners is a lack of affordable housing.
Enter EmergencyBNB—a website modeled off AirBNB that connects domestic violence survivors and refugees with hosts offering free temporary housing.
The company was started by Harvard grad and social entrepreneur Amr Arafa in November 2015. Arafa had listed his own D.C. apartment on AirBNB, rejecting users who weren’t survivors or refugees. The site repeatedly took down his posting as a result—and so, EmergencyBNB was born.
Arafa says the number of users has exploded following a spate of media coverage this summer. As of September 15, the site had over 8,000 users worldwide. Though most of those are people looking for housing, it also includes hosts in 29 states (including Maryland and Virginia) and D.C.
“Statistically, 57 percent of homeless women report that domestic violence was the immediate cause of their homelessness,” says a spokesperson for EmergencyBNB. “While governments take serious steps to address these issues, it is time that society considered more creative and even more efficient solutions.”
“Our future goal is to essentially enhance the misrepresented image of vulnerable people—to make it more likely for people to become hosts, and to build a solid framework for guests and hosts to connect.”
It’s important to understand that when we talk about domestic violence, we’re talking about something that is communal. We’re talking about your friend, your coworker, your neighbor—possibly even you. So when we talk about solving domestic violence, those solutions need to be community-driven.
That’s what is so exciting about new projects like EmergencyBNB that give citizens the power to support domestic violence survivors in our very own homes.
This Domestic Violence Awareness Month, why not register as a host if you have an extra room? Learn more about EmergencyBNB and their work at www.emergencybnb.com.