CAMBRIDGE, MASS. (WHDH) - Two Harvard University students are using their smarts and their skills to create a website that links Ukrainian refugees with available housing.
The site is called Ukrainetakeshelter.com and serves as an online bulletin board where people can offer places to stay.
The refugee enters their current city in the search bar and listings pop up of available couches, rooms, apartments and even entire homes. There are filters for certain sizes of families or whether there’s a pet to help meet people’s needs.
“It’s kind of like a very slimmed-down version of Airbnb on steroids,” said cofounder Avi Schiffmann. “I think it’s really cool. I call it like, ‘internet activism’. You’re able to develop these super practical tools for the real people in these situations being anywhere on Earth.”
The idea came to the 19-year-old while attending a protest about the war. Having already created one of the world’s largest coronavirus tracking sites, Schiffman knew he could help in cyberspace.
“There’s a lot of people that are on the ground in Poland and doing stuff and helping,” he said. “I can’t get on the ground in Poland but I can code stuff that can help those people on the ground in Poland.”
So, Schiffmann contacted his classmate, 18-year-old Marco Burstein and together, they developed the site in just three days. It officially launched on March 2 and has already listed more than 5,000 available places to call home.
“Even though I’m not like, super knowledgeable in geopolitics or trained in first aid, I can still directly help refugees with the skills I have and I guess that brings me satisfaction because I feel like I’m contributing.”
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