Mayor Lightfoot Announces Partnership With Airbnb To Provide Rooms To Victims Of Domestic Violence During COVID-19 Pandemic

Domestic Violence

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Mayor Lightfoot announced Tuesday new partnership with Airbnb to support residents fleeing violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Airbnb has worked through its hotel partners to provide a place to stay for victims needing to flee a violent situation, while also connecting them to additionalresources. Coordination of this program will be facilitated through the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline which is available to residents 24/7/365 at 877-863-6338 and The Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence.

“We understand that the Stay at Home order has the potential to exacerbate the already traumatic circumstances for Chicagoans experiencing violence at home, which is why the City of Chicago is continuing to collaborate with our partners to ensure that those who need refuge from violence have access to a safe place to stay,” said Mayor Lightfoot, in a statement.

“This new partnership with Airbnb creates a key link for individuals fleeing violent situations by affording them immediate safe shelter and enabling them to take the next steps in their journey of recovery and growth. I want to personally thank Airbnb for stepping up during this critical time and supporting our citywide mission to aid all our residents in need of a safe shelter, regardless of age, gender or background.”

Under the state mandated stay-at-home order, access to safe, reliable shelter is more critical now than ever before, to prevent victims from being forced to remain in potentiallyunsafe environments. Over the past several weeks, the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline has seen a substantial increase in calls since the COVID-19 crisis took hold, the Mayor's Office said in a statement. During the month of March alone, calls to the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline increased 6 percent in the Chicago area, compared to March 2019. The hotline has also received 30 additional texts for domestic violence claims in Chicago compared to March 2019, and on March 30, 2020 the hotline received 104 calls, the highest daily volume in over a year.

Additionally, the Chicago Police Department has seen an increase of approximately 12 percent in domestic violence related calls for service from Jan. 1 through mid-April compared to the same time period of 2019.

“There is a growing need to support victims of domestic violence as there is increased demand for shelters during the pandemic, and we are pleased to work with the City ofChicago and The Network to help fill this transitional housing need,” said Kelley Gossett, head of Chicago Policy for Airbnb, in a statement. “By connecting The Network with accommodations, we hope to help Chicago domestic violence survivors get to a place to stay as quickly as possible.”

In an effort to address this situation, Airbnb and HotelTonight – a member of the Airbnb family – will facilitate places to stay for survivors that call the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline to flee a violent situation. The hotline will coordinate with HotelTonight and The Network to place the hotel reservation on the behalf of the caller, and The Network will cover the cost of these stays with funding from the State. This process will ensure the security and privacy of all parties.

The Chicago Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) is the lead agency for the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline and works exclusively with The Network, a local nonprofit, to ensure residents have access to domestic violence support resources 24/7/365 – especially during this unprecedented time. The Illinois Domestic ViolenceHotline is available 24/7 via call or text in over 240 languages.