A temporary-housing startup backed by Airbnb is aiding in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic by offering discounts to displaced students and healthcare workers

College students moving out

Zeus, a company that offers temporary housing on a monthly basis, is using its platform to help students and healthcare workers in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Zeus currently operates in six major metro areas: San Francisco, Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Washington, DC. Back in December 2019, Zeus raised $55 million in its Series B round, getting backing from investors including Airbnb.Advertisement

With over 2,400 apartments on its platform, the company has started offering $1,000 off the first month's rent to both students near closed campuses and to healthcare workers. The code for college students is "UNI1000" and for healthcare workers, "HEALTH1000."

"In the wake of COVID-19, we know you're concerned. We share those concerns, and are as committed as ever to providing the support you need," a memo on the company website reads.

Zeus CEO Kulveer Taggar told Business Insider that since the outbreak, the website has seen a surge in demand about four times greater than the normal search volume.
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At first, he explained, it started seeing bookings from Harvard students. Then, as more campuses closed, more students came to the site. In light of this spike and the uncertainty of this moment, Taggar took to Twitter to share a discount code for students. The company has since been in touch with 130 universities close to where it has operations.

For students who aren't able to leave the city or country, options are limited. Booking extended stays on online marketplaces can become expensive and hotels around the country are being temporarily shutting down. Business Insider caught up with a senior at Georgetown University who was able to find housing through Zeus after that campus closed. The 23-year-old student, who has asked Business Insider to remain anonymous because they want to apply for a US green card in the future, said they had few options when they found out Georgetown was closing its dorms. The student is from Beijing and feared that leaving the country would impact their green card chances after graduation. In addition, they said the US-China time difference would have made it difficult to take online classes.Advertisement

The student told Business Insider that they had three options: move off campus, apply to stay on campus, or go back to China and risk not being able to come back.

While they applied to stay on campus, they told Business Insider there was still a chance the application wouldn't get approved. Given the small window of time they had to find a solution, they decided to look for alternative housing off campus.

With the student discount, Zeus was the most affordable option for the student. Zeus was accommodating to the student's needs and allowed them to move in earlier than the intended date. The student plans on staying with Zeus for two months and is paying roughly $3,500 per month. Advertisement

According to Zeus, of the students using the discount code, 40% live in San Francisco, 25% live in Seattle, 20% live in Washington, DC, and the remaining 15% live in either Los Angeles, New York, or Boston.

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