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11 August 2020
The Open Home Network, a Singapore-based ‘Airbnb for the needy’, launched this quarter. The OHN lets volunteers offer up their homes or empty properties to individuals in crisis, who do not have to pay any rent for up to one year. The network is designed to aid those who may be on the brink of homelessness, facing abuse (as part of the COVID-related uptick in domestic violence across Singapore) or encountering another difficult situation. As of August 2020, at least twenty families have volunteered for the movement.
The reason the OHN caught our eye? Its nickname: ‘Airbnb for the needy’. Even before COVID, a multitude of resources and physical spaces weren’t being used to their full capacity. This is even more true right now…especially regarding hotel rooms and other accommodations for travelers. Many of which, with the travel industry not set to recover until at least 2023, will remain empty and a literal waste of space for a long time to come.
As a result, CAPACITY CAPTURE – a trend we’ve been tracking for a while – is rapidly gaining ground. This sees organizations figure out how to unlock new sources of value from underutilized resources. Hotel rooms and Airbnbs are the underutilized resource of the moment, hence 100,000 Airbnbs being used to house COVID-19 responders, Sweden-based Stadt converting its hotel rooms into pop-up restaurants, empty hostels are becoming homeless shelters, and one rental company in Japan is offering apartments to help couples avoid ‘coronavirus divorces’.
Innovation doesn’t just mean building something entirely from scratch. How can you instead give new life – and new meaning – to a resource that already exists? Better yet: Can you do so to solve a shared, societal challenge, as the OHN is doing here?
The TrendWatching content team