Airbnb and Lyft are helping people escape Hurricane Florence

Airbnb is housing people displaced by Hurricane Florence.
Airbnb is housing people displaced by Hurricane Florence.
Image: Reuters/Carlo Allegri
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The sharing economy is springing into action as Hurricane Florence bears down on the US east coast.

Airbnb has activated its disaster response tool for a wide swath of the east coast, encouraging hosts to open their homes for free to displaced neighbors and disaster-relief workers in need of housing. The program is active for Atlanta and Augusta in Georgia; Charlotte and Greensboro in North Carolina; Columbia, Greenville, and Spartanburg in South Carolina; and Charlottesville, Virginia, through Oct. 1.

Lyft said it would donate $25,000 to its “Relief Rides” program, designed to transport people before the hurricane strikes. The company also said it had partnered with United Way’s 2-1-1 program in North Carolina and South Carolina, where evacuees could dial 2-1-1 to receive a code for a free ride worth up to $15 through today (Sept. 12).

Both Airbnb and Lyft have stepped in before to aid people affected by hurricanes. In 2017, Lyft donated $100,000 to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund and another $100,000 to a Relief Rides program for Hurricane Irma. In May 2018, Lyft said it planned to expand the Relief Rides initiative beyond crisis scenarios—for example, to help veterans and low-income individuals get to job interviews or medical appointments. Lyft said it would spend $1.5 million on the program over the next year.

Airbnb established its Disaster Response and Relief Program in 2012 after Hurricane Sandy. The program now provides emergency shelter to people around the world.