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Seattle's Mary's Place partnering with Lyft to offer free rides to homeless families

The six-month pilot program will offer rides to and from Mary's Place shelters and other places for women and families experiencing homelessness.

In its continued effort in the fight against homelessness, Mary’s Place has partnered with rideshare company Lyft to give free rides to homeless families.

“One of the big reasons that families can’t get to shelter is for lack of transportation, and that’s what we do,” said Todd Kelsay, the Pacific Northwest Regional Director for Lyft.

The six-month pilot program runs through December 2019 and will provide rides to and from the shelter for women and families in need. 

On top of that, Lyft also gave Mary’s Place a $7,500 ride credit to use as they see fit.

“It’s heartbreaking when you think there are shelters available and they just can't get there,” Kelsay said.

When a family needs a ride, they call Mary's Place. Volunteers will then ask the family a few questions to see what kind of services are required, and then they'll send a Lyft driver to pick the family up.

For Lyft drivers, this is no different than picking up any other passenger. While there is no opt-out or opt-in option at this time, drivers do still have the option to cancel a ride like normal.

Helen Taylor visits a cardiologist once a week and said she’d normally walk and take multiple buses to get to her appointments.

“I would catch the 70 to go downtown or the 3 or the 4,” she said. “That wasn’t good because a lot of times I don’t feel good. Most of the times I don’t, when I'm pushing all that.”

With this service, Taylor said she plans to tell all of her friends about it and how it can make the process of getting help easier.

Marty Hartman, Director of Mary’s Place, said the partnership also helps give confidence to those looking to get their life back on track.

“I hope it shows the community that this is possible, that it’s doable to rise up, to help your neighbor,” she said.

The service can also eliminate some negative stereotypes and stigmas associated with homelessness, particularly in regards to women.

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