June 28, 2022
Ayelet Parness, HIAS.org
Finding housing is one of the first — and often most challenging — issues that refugees face in a new country. Watch as Airbnb host Mery, refugee guest Daniela, and HIAS staff member Cristina discuss the difference that hosting refugees through Airbnb can make.
When Daniela arrived as a refugee in Ecuador with her family, they faced a great deal of difficulty and uncertainty. But thanks to HIAS, Airbnb, and local hosts who open up their homes to refugees, Daniela feels supported and embraced by her local community.
“We’ve had incredible support,” says Daniela in a video created by Airbnb.org and HIAS. “Ecuador itself has welcomed us. We’re finding a community in this new place.”
Since 2018, Airbnb has partnered with HIAS to provide temporary housing for refugees and other displaced people in a number of countries, including Ecuador — which hosts thousands of people displaced by crises in Venezuela, Colombia, and other countries. Recently, this partnership has included providing housing for people displaced by the war in Ukraine and Afghan evacuees who arrived in the U.S. during a severe housing shortage.
The success of the joint venture between HIAS and Airbnb is only possible when local hosts like Mery make the choice to welcome refugees into their homes. Mery says that when HIAS approached her to become a host for refugees, they also provided training to help her understand the needs of her refugee guests.
“From what I’ve gone through in my own life, I feel like I can relate,” adds Mery, who had previously left Ecuador with her husband in search of better economic opportunities and returned. “I decided to say yes. Hosting brings my family needed income, but it also gives us human connection. This brings us joy.”
“We can make such a positive impact welcoming these refugees,” explains Cristina Carrasco, housing program advisor at HIAS Ecuador. “This is how we connect people. This is how we strengthen communities.”