Working with the City of Chicago to Help People Fleeing Domestic Violence

  • The City of Chicago, The Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence and Airbnb are working together to connect those affected by domestic violence with places to stay funded by the State of Illinois.

Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and Airbnb have announced a new partnership to support any resident that is seeking refuge from domestic violence, or a violent situation, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Airbnb has worked through its hotel partners to provide a place to stay, free of charge to victims needing to flee a violent situation. 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 (TTY 877-863-6339) 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. “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.”

With the State-mandated ‘Stay at Home’ Order in effect, reliable shelter is critical now more than ever before to prevent victims from being forced to remain in potentially unsafe environments. In fact, over the past several weeks, the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline has seen a substantial increase in calls since the COVID-19 crisis took hold. 

In an effort to address this situation, Airbnb and HotelTonight—part of the Airbnb family—will facilitate places to stay for survivors that call the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline to flee a domestic violence situation. The hotline will coordinate with Hotel Tonight and The Network to place the hotel reservation on the behalf of the caller and The Network will cover the cost of these stays thanks to funding from the State. These reservations will be available to those who may need to flee a violent situation, and the facilitation of the program will be conducted in a manner that protects both the anonymity and privacy of the victim. 

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

“The Illinois Statewide Domestic Violence Hotline and The Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence are grateful for the generosity and dedicated effort of Airbnb in securing affordable hotels and apartments for domestic violence victims seeking safe shelter during this crisis,” Amanda Pyron, ED of the Network. “These accommodations will ensure victims’ safety by being dispersed widely throughout the city and state and will be equipped with supplies to ensure public health and safety. These units vary in size and type to ensure our most vulnerable city residents will have access to appropriate living spaces. We appreciate Airbnb for their tireless efforts to bring this housing online in time to meet the anticipated need.”

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 Violence Hotline is available 24/7 via call or text in over 240 languages. 

Recently, the State of Illinois announced a $1.2 million plan to increase the capacity of the current statewide network of services for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors during the COVID-19 pandemic. The State’s plan expands the role of the DV Helpline by creating a one-stop access point for shelter needs, including providing additional assistance for Chicagoans that are fleeing a violent situation in order to provide them access to a place to stay.