Airbnb supports Young Center’s work with separated children in federal custody

Airbnb will offer free housing to Young Center volunteers and staff working to reunify families in New York as well as seven other cities nationwide

Airbnb announced a donation to the Young Center — a human rights organization that advocates for the rights and best interests of immigrant children — in support of their efforts to reunify families.

Over the coming months, Airbnb will provide $10,000 in vouchers for free housing for Young Center volunteers and staff so that they can respond to special situations where children face unnecessary or improper separation from their families. Airbnb housing will also enable volunteers and staff to attend trainings and strategy sessions, a critical part of their work to secure children’s reunion with their parents or their safe return to their home country. This housing will be provided in and around eight cities nationwide — New York, Houston, San Antonio and Harlingen, TX, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Chicago — where the Young Center has its offices.

“Today thousands of immigrant children are separated from their families and unsure of what the future holds. Our dedicated staff, volunteers and experts at the Young Center are doing everything we can to advocate for the best interests of these children. Our united network of advocates is on the ground in cities around the country helping unaccompanied immigrant children through the legal and emotional challenges that they face. The needs of these children have never been greater,” said Maria Woltjen, Executive Director of the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights at The University Of Chicago. “The Young Center is grateful for the generous support from Airbnb at this critical time and we hope this is the beginning of a great alliance as we work toward our mission of ensuring immigrant children are treated first as children. All children need safety, the love and care of family, and the ability to grow and develop.”

“Right now, volunteers and staff at the Young Center are toiling day and night to make families whole again by reuniting separated children with their parents. Their work is righteous and stands for our higher angels,” said Chris Lehane, Head of Global Policy for Airbnb. “Working with our community of hosts, we are just trying to lend a small helping hand to make it a little easier for these advocates and to hopefully ensure that the families for whom they advocate can be reunited that much sooner.”

The free housing provided by Airbnb will help the Young Center to expand its network of bilingual, volunteer Child Advocates beyond its current geographic scope. There is a pressing need to recruit and train volunteers who live in various parts of the country and the vouchers will allow the Young Center to provide housing at no cost to volunteers who travel to one of the organization’s eight offices to be trained this summer and fall.

Airbnb’s donations will also support Young Center staff working to reunify families by providing accommodations when travel is necessary for individual cases. In response to generous donations from across the country, the Young Center has hired new staff to take on additional cases and work “on the ground” where children and parents are detained. However, staff must travel when demand is greater in certain areas. Airbnb’s donation will help to offset the high cost of housing to make this possible.

The Young Center intends to bring staff together to identify different strategies to secure children’s reunification with parents or their safe return to their home country. These vouchers will allow the Young Center to bring staff from several locations together for day-long strategy sessions.

In addition to this support for the Young Center’s efforts to reunify families separated at the border, Airbnb has also been working to help travelers affected by the recent US Supreme Court decision to uphold the Administration’s travel ban. Airbnb is currently matching donations to the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) to support their work advocating for systemic change and legal pathways for those affected by the travel ban (up to $150k through September 30, 2018). Click here to donate and learn more. 

About The Young Center
The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights at the University of Chicago is a human rights organization that advocates for the rights and best interests of unaccompanied immigrant children. Young Center attorneys and social workers, along with bilingual volunteers, are appointed as Child Advocates by the Department of Health and Human Services. The organization serves as a trusted ally for these unaccompanied immigrant children while they are in deportation proceedings, advocating for their best interests, and standing for the creation of a dedicated children’s immigrant justice system that ensures the safety and well-being of every child.

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