By Debbie Gregory.
Arch rivals in the ride-sharing space, Uber and Lyft have put their differences aside for a good cause. Both companies have announced that they will offer free rides to homeless veterans trying to get to work opportunities.
This gesture could offer struggling veterans a little help where it’s really needed.
“We have heard time and again that transportation to and from work and job interviews is often a significant hurdle for homeless veterans trying to find work,” Air Force Col. Nicole Malachowski, the executive director of Joining Forces, said in a statement.
While Lyft has yet to offer any specific details on how it’ll be handling the ride program, Uber is promising that over the next year it’ll work with five veterans organizations affiliated with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program to provide around 10,000 free rides to jobs, interviews, and other employment events.
Uber estimates it will contribute 10,000 rides at an average ride of $10 to $12 — or $125,000 during the next year — to provide transportation for veterans to jobs, interviews and other employment events, said Kristin Carvell, a company spokesperson.
Uber also has pledged to onboard 50,000 service members, veterans and military spouses as partner drivers on the Uber platform.
Getting the homeless off the streets and into housing has been a major goal for the Department of Veterans Affairs. By using a voucher system that subsidizes most or all of the rent, the VA is seeing a lot of success. Once housing has been secured, the VA then works to provide the veterans with counseling, health care and other benefits.
VA spending on homelessness jumped from about $376 million in 2009 to about $1.5 billion last year, according to estimates by the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.