Vacation rental hosts offer free housing to lava evacuees

Vacation rental hosts offer free housing to lava evacuees
A fountain as high as a 20-story building shoots from the ground in Leilani Estates. (Image: Hawaii County Civil Defense)

HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - When Brittany and Bodhi Anderson saw their community impacted by the Kilauea volcano, they opened up their home.

Normally, they would be charging $75 to $90 a night for the apartment attached to their house. But for those displaced by the Kilauea volcano, it's a free stay.

"They're just so grateful," Brittany Anderson said about her guests. "I cannot imagine losing everything."

The Andersons are just one of the over 30 Airbnb hosts offering their places for free or at discounted rates. The disaster response program started in early May so that hosts could offer a place to stay for those displaced by the volcanic activity.

The couple has already hosted three groups and they're getting ready for two others. Their next guests: A family of three with a 13-month-old that evacuated Thursday.

While the Andersons have enjoyed helping their community, it was a hard decision to offer up their place for free.

"It's about 40 percent of our income," she said.

Brittany Anderson said she's gotten backlash in the past, either on Facebook or from neighbors, from people who are against short-term rentals.

"If it wasn't for (rentals)," she said. "Some of these people would be living in their cars."

"If it weren't for hosting, we wouldn't be able to help, right?" said Maria Jampolsky, another Big Island host on the website.

Jampolsky has been hosting a family of four — the Owens — since Monday.

"Maria has been an angel," said Sarah Owens.

The Owens have been having issues finding housing ever since the family was evacuated from Leilani Estates in early May.

"We've had to sleep on pavement," said Owens, who has a 1-year-old and an 8-year-old.

The Airbnb Disaster Response program remains in effect until June 14.

This story will be updated.

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