Airbnb is expanding its efforts to work with host homeowners that are part of its network to offer free temporary housing to people affected by oncoming Hurricane Florence as well as to aid workers.

The program has been expanded to cover hosts in selected metropolitan areas across five states: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia and Tennessee.

Specific areas where the free housing offer is being made are:

  • Georgia: Atlanta, Athens, Augusta, and Macon
  • North Carolina: Asheville, Charlotte and Greensboro, and Winston-Salem
  • South Carolina: Anderson, Columbia, Greenville, Rock Hill, and Spartanburg
  • Tennessee: Chattanooga, Knoxville, Johnson City and Kingsport
  • Virginia: Charlottesville, Lynchburg, Richmond and Roanoke

“We offer this program because during times of disaster our host community wants to help those in need,” says a spokesperson for Airbnb. The program dates back to Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

The company also is encouraging more hosts to participate.

Airbnb (This work is licensed under a Creative Commons International License.)

Airbnb (This work is licensed under a Creative Commons International License.)

All fees and taxes are waived for participants in the program.

The free stay program will end Oct. 1.

Here’s how the program works, according to Airbnb:

  • Airbnb has contacted all of its hosts within the Greater Atlanta, Augusta, Charlotte, Greensboro, Columbia, Greenville, Spartanburg and Charlottesville activation zones to inform them of the Open Homes activation and encourage them to take part in the program if they are in a position to help.
  • Hosts interested in listing their properties for free are being directed to follow, where they can opt in by clicking “I can offer my space for free”.
  • Airbnb has also contacted all Airbnb users within the evacuating territories to make them aware of this tool if they are in need of shelter.
  • The evacuees are being directed to follow the same link — — where they can locate free listings within close proximity by clicking “I need a place to stay”.
  • The Airbnb platform then facilitates the connection between the hosts and guests.
  • Residents in the activation areas who are not currently Airbnb users are still able to take part in the program either as hosts or guests — simply by creating a verified account on the platform.
  • In addition to the free listing price, all Airbnb service fees and state/local taxes are waived.

Additional information about where and how to find hosts or for property owners wishing to participate in the program can be found online.

More areas might be activated as the storm develops.

“In the event of major emergencies like Florence, Airbnb activates its host community through Open Homes to support neighbors helping neighbors,” the company says. “The Open Homes platform allows residents who have been displaced — as well as emergency relief workers and volunteers who are coming in to assist — to find temporary accommodation with local Airbnb hosts who are opening their homes free of charge.”

In the past seven years, Airbnb has assisted with more than 250 disasters worldwide.