WHEN KAROL HANSEN WAS DIAGNOSED with metastatic breast cancer in April 2019, her doctors recommended simultaneous radiation and chemotherapy treatments daily for a period of six weeks to address her fast-growing tumors. To Hansen, driving 110 miles from her home in Temecula, California, to her oncologist’s office at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Medical Center didn’t seem realistic.

Hansen reached out to Cancer Support Community (CSC), a nonprofit dedicated to supporting cancer patients and their families. Through a partnership between CSC and Airbnb’s Open Homes program, which allows nonprofit organizations to offer temporary lodging to those who need it, a coordinator helped her find, book and pay for a 21-day stay in a two-bedroom condominium 2 miles from UCLA. In turn, her doctors adjusted her regimen to two chemotherapy treatments daily to minimize her time away from home.

If You Need Housing

Who to contact if you need somewhere to stay during treatment.

Cancer patients in need of travel assistance or housing near a treatment center should contact one of the following nonprofits that work with the Airbnb Open Homes program:

Adel Tousi, the owner of the condo Hansen stayed in, has listed properties on Airbnb since January 2018. He does his part to accommodate cancer patients by accepting short-notice requests whenever possible and moving other guests to different properties to allow longer stays for the patients. While CSC often pays for patients to stay at his properties, Tousi frequently discounts his rates and donates part of his rental revenue to the Open Homes program.

“If I can make a difficult time even 5% better for someone by being available and making the place as comfortable as possible, it’s really satisfying,” says Tousi, whose mother is a cancer survivor.

Open Homes

Airbnb is looking for more hosts to participate in its Open Homes program.

Visit the Airbnb website to enroll and offer your home to patients traveling for medical reasons. If you’re already an Airbnb host, you can support the program by offering free or discounted housing for patients or by donating a portion of your revenues to the program.

Open Homes was originally inspired by Airbnb users who opened their doors to people displaced by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and has since expanded to cater to people needing temporary housing due to illness.

For Hansen, the condo was a “phenomenal resource,” not only because it allowed her to rest and be comfortable between treatments, but because it lifted her spirits. “When you’re going through your cancer journey, it can be hard to have hope,” Hansen says. “But when you have people like those at Cancer Support Community and our Airbnb host, who are willing to come alongside you and, even as complete strangers, are willing to give you this blessing, it really fills you with hope.”