Ride-sharing rivals Uber and Lyft are coming together to support veterans and make life a little easier for those most in need.
The companies will donate thousands of free trips to service members experiencing homelessness for transportation to work, job interviews and other employment events, the White House announced on its website Tuesday.
The move is part of a broader effort by the White House’s Joining Forces initiative, to help end homelessness among veterans, and encourage the public and private sectors to fulfill the unmet needs of America’s military families. Joining Forces was launched in 2011 by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden.
“We have heard time and time again that transportation to and from work and job interviews is often a significant hurdle for homeless veterans trying to find work,” the White House said in its blog post. “If a veteran is working a night shift or employed in a remote area of a city, public transportation is not always a viable option and there is limited funding available for alternative transportation.”
Uber will contribute an estimated 10,000 rides — a value of $125,000 — over the coming year, Emil Michael, Senior Vice president of Business for Uber said on the company's blog post.
In addition, riders will be able to join Uber’s efforts on Nov. 11, Veterans Day, and donate $5 towards additional rides for veterans. The company's app will feature a 'VETS DAY' option for users, that when selected, availble cars will transform into American flags. At the end of the trip reply ‘Yes’ to the text message from Uber confirming your donation.
Lyft has not specified how many free rides they will make available to veterans, but according to White House blog tens of thousands of free rides would be offered by both companies.
On-demand transportation to veterans will be administered by veterans organizations working with the Labor Department’s Homeless Veterans' Reintegration Program.
There are nearly 50,000 homeless veterans in America, according to the most recent estimates by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development based on data collected during the annual Point-in-Time Count conducted in January 2014. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans estimates that more than two-thirds of those veterans live without access to reliable transportation, limiting their ability to gain and hold jobs.
“The First Lady and Joining Forces would like to thank ride hailing companies Uber and Lyft for stepping up to help address this problem,” the White House blog said. “It is remarkable to see competitors come together to support our veterans.”
The first lady will share a “special message” during NBC’s “The Voice” playoffs Wednesday on behalf of Veterans and Joining Forces.