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Tourists attracted to Seattle could see their money go to keeping families from sleeping on the streets at night. (Flickr Photo / Tiffany Von Arnim)

A new campaign spearheaded by a Seattle startup aims to help travelers to the city find a place to stay while also helping fund shelter for the homeless.

Horizon, a private home-sharing platform, is launching Stay a Night, Give a Night, an initiative that will allocate tourism dollars to help those in need. Instead of staying in a hotel or other accommodations, travelers pay just $14 a night to be connected to a local host. Those funds (plus a $10 service fee) are the equivalent of one night’s shelter for a homeless child at Mary’s Place, the nonprofit organization that cares for homeless women and children.

Horizon CEO Drew Meyers.

Horizon said in a news release that an estimated 1,200 children sleep outside every night in Seattle. 

“Giving back to the local community is an important way for tourists to form meaningful travel experiences,” said Drew Meyers, co-founder of Horizon. “This campaign allows tourism dollars to directly impact a societal challenge on the minds of Seattle residents: homelessness.”

Horizon, which was the subject of a GeekWire Startup Spotlight back in 2015, was founded in June 2014 as a way to help travelers find places to stay based on their existing networks, such as clubs, religious organizations, graduating classes, etc.

Here’s how Stay a Night, Give a Night works, according to Horizon:

To be a Seattle host:

  • Sign up for an account and list your accommodations details — your listing will always remain private.
  • When travelers express an interest, Horizon shares potential hosting opportunities.
  • If you accept, Horizon facilitates the connection.

For travelers to Seattle:

  • Complete the accommodation request form with details about your upcoming trip to Seattle and prepay $14 per night (plus a $10 service fee).
  • Horizon then matches you with a Seattle host — if a match can’t be found, your contribution is refunded.
  • You enjoy visiting Seattle for a fraction of the cost of a hotel or vacation rental, receive insider advice from your host, and help house the homeless in the process.

“Exploring a new city with advice from vetted locals beats all other travel experiences hands down,” said Bryan Copley, co-founder of CityBldr, a launch sponsor for the campaign. “Travelers have better experiences when equipped with insider tips, introductions, and knowledge. Horizon not only provides that, but I feel great that my travel dollars help address urgent social challenges.”

Meyers will be giving a 2-minute pitch for the concept at the Impact Travel Seattle launch event on Tuesday.

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