Kelowna woman, Airbnb have plans to help hospital workers cope with COVID-19 fallout - InfoNews

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Kelowna woman, Airbnb have plans to help hospital workers cope with COVID-19 fallout

Were you planning to rent your home to tourists for the summer?
Image Credit: istock photo
March 31, 2020 - 7:30 AM

When Juanita Straub realized her Airbnb rental was going to sit empty as tourists stopped making their way to Kelowna, she was struck by inspiration.

“My first thought was that people who are travelling home could come in, if they are isolating from family, and I could charge just a small amount,” Straub said.

Then a woman who works at the hospital asked if she had a suite, and would she be interested in renting it to nurses who had to isolate from their families because of the work they were doing at the hospital.

“I thought right away, ‘boom — that’s what I have to do’,” she said.

Now she has two nurses moving into the suite tonight after their shift. She’s not sure how long they will stay, but she’s glad to offer the suite up and she’s going to do so at no charge.

“Not only are they putting themselves in danger, they’re having to go away from their families, so I’m happy to do this,” she said. “I think now is the time when we should all band together as a society, help where we can.”

This realization also prompted her to put a call out on social media for more people to do the same.

“We would like to challenge other Airbnbs and vacation rentals to think of doing the same. Just something to think about as a way of saying thank you,” she wrote.

Thus far, a couple of people have come forward and she took their names to see if she could forward them on to others at the hospital or to other first responders.

She also heard that Airbnb has been working on something similar all along.

“Airbnb is partnering with our hosts to connect 100,000 healthcare providers, relief workers, and first responders with clean, convenient places to stay that allow them to be close to their patients—and safely distanced from their own families. We may be apart, but we’ll get through this together,” reads the announcement from the organization.

“Our partner organizations are starting to use the Airbnb platform to find housing for COVID-19 responders. We’ve created new ways for members of our community to support them during this difficult time.”

Those who can provide a safe and convenient place to stay for COVID-19 responders are invited to offer their place for free, but if they choose not to do that Airbnb is currently waiving all Airbnb fees.

They’re also asking for donations that will go to partner organizations supporting COVID-19 responders who need to stay near hospitals or stay isolated from their family.

To learn more go to or look up Straub on Facebook.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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