San Jose State University, Mayor Liccardo and Bill Wilson Center Launch Partnership with Airbnb to Address Student Homelessness

Editor’s Note:  This news release was sent to the media on November 13, 2019

Media Contacts

Robin McElhatton, San Jose State University, (408) 799-3373 or
Chloe Meyere, Office of Mayor Sam Liccardo, (408) 535-4833 or
Mattie Zazueta, Airbnb, (323) 448-6974 or
Robin Reynolds, Bill Wilson Center, (408) 850-6156 or

San Jose State University, Mayor Liccardo and Bill Wilson Center Launch Partnership with Airbnb to Address Student Homelessness

First-of-its-kind pilot program will provide short-term housing solutions for homeless and housing-insecure college students in San Jose ahead of the holiday season

San Jose, Calif. — Today, San Jose State University, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and Bill Wilson Center joined Airbnb to announce a first-of-its-kind partnership-in-the-country to provide a community-based solution that will offer free, temporary housing to college students experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity. San Jose is the first city in the country to pilot Airbnb for Work’s third-party booking tool — where an administrator can book and manage stays on behalf of others — to address student homelessness. 

The partnership was borne out of initial conversations with Mayor Liccardo, Airbnb, Bill Wilson Center, and San Jose State University over the summer, and will pay additional focus to ensure students have housing over the holiday season.

“College students should worry about final exams, not about where they’ll sleep each night,” said Mayor Liccardo. “We are proud to forge this partnership with Airbnb, Bill Wilson Center, and San Jose State to do better for our next generation of leaders.” 

Leveraging Airbnb for Work’s third-party booking tool, Bill Wilson Center will book temporary accommodations on behalf of participating students. Airbnb will refund its host and guest booking fees to Bill Wilson Center for the pilot program. 

“We need to work together in Silicon Valley to assure vulnerable college students have a place to stay when they face homelessness,” said Sparky Harlan, Bill Wilson Center CEO. “Thanks to Airbnb, Bill Wilson Center will have access to rooms in hosted homes where we can temporarily place a student while we work to find them longer-term, stable housing.”

Students’ short-term stays will range between a few days to a few weeks and up to several months — as determined by individual need — while Bill Wilson Center works to identify a long-term, stable housing solution for participating students. The center will use existing federal, state, and local funding sources to cover the short-term rents.

“Across the country, too many students are going to bed every night without a roof over their heads,” said Chris Lehane, Airbnb’s Senior Vice President of Global Policy and Communications. “We are honored that Mayor Liccardo is leading this work and grateful for the opportunity to bring public, private and nonprofit resources together to support local students in need. We look forward to working with the Bill Wilson Center in the coming months to leverage our host community and place students in a safe place they can call home.”

Mayor Liccardo hopes partners can leverage and grow this partnership to help homeless and housing insecure students at other higher education institutions in San Jose, and the region. 

“San Jose State, particularly students who may need support during the upcoming winter recess when the campus is closed, will find the funds earmarked for this initiative to be a welcome and timely gift as we approach the holiday season,” said Patrick Day, San Jose State University Vice President of Student Affairs. “We know that a comforting and supportive environment for our students—including housing—is an important building block for meeting their basic needs. Partnerships like this are a must when tackling such an urgent and critical issue, so this collaborative effort is a step in the right direction.”

The pilot program follows City of San Jose’s declaration of November as National Homeless Youth Awareness Month and will launch ahead of the holidays when on-campus housing and services become less accessible. It also aligns with Bill Wilson Center’s recently-announced 100-Day Challenge to Prevent and End Youth Homelessness, launched in partnership with Santa Clara County Supervisor Susan Ellenberg. 

About San Jose State University 

The founding campus of the 23-campus California State University system, San José State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 145 areas of study with an additional 108 concentrations — offered through its eight colleges. With approximately 36,000 students and nearly 4,370 employees, San José State University continues to be an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and the state, annually contributing more than 7,000 graduates to the workforce. The university is immensely proud of the accomplishments of its more than 220,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area.

About the City of San Jose

With more than one million residents, San José is one of the most diverse large cities in the United States and is Northern California’s largest city and the 10th largest city in the nation. San José’s transformation into a global innovation center has resulted in one of the largest concentrations of technology companies and expertise in the world. In 2011, the City adopted Envision San José 2040, a long-term growth plan that sets forth a vision and a comprehensive road map to guide the City’s anticipated growth through the year 2040.

About Airbnb

Airbnb is one of the world’s largest marketplaces for unique, authentic places to stay and things to do, offering over 7 million accommodations and 40,000 handcrafted activities, all powered by local hosts. An economic empowerment engine, Airbnb has helped millions of hospitality entrepreneurs monetize their spaces and their passions while keeping the financial benefits of tourism in their own communities. With more than half a billion guest arrivals to date, and accessible in 62 languages across 191 countries and regions, Airbnb promotes people-to-people connection, community, and trust around the world. Airbnb For Work provides a suite of tools for travelers and travel managers to make it easier to travel for work without sacrificing the comforts of home. 

About Bill Wilson Center

The Bill Wilson Center is a non-profit that provides housing, education and counseling services to more than 4,100 children, young adults, and families in Santa Clara County. The organization is committed to working with the community to ensure that every youth has access to the range of services needed to grow to be healthy and self-sufficient adults. Bill Wilson Center has been providing services to runaway and homeless youth since 1973.