Think about the last job interview you had. Did you worry about how to get there and if you’d make it on time? Most of us simply hop in the car or take public transportation without a second thought. But for many Americans, particularly those in major metro cities, landing a job interview is only the first of many painstaking steps to actually getting a job.
When Jane* called 2-1-1 last month, she was out of options. A single mom of two young children living in Cleveland, she was unemployed and facing possible eviction. She’d lost her job in January and was paying rent using her federal income tax refund, which was running out. When she finally landed a job interview, she didn’t have the money to get to and from the interview. Without a car or easy and inexpensive public transportation, she was in a catch-22. Luckily, 2-1-1 Cleveland had access to free Lyft rides through a new partnership between the ride-sharing company and United Way. When Jane explained her dilemma, the 2-1-1 specialist assured her that she could provide her with roundtrip transportation at no cost.
Each year, 2-1-1s across the U.S. receive over 250,000 requests for transportation assistance from callers like Jane. They are people trying to get to jobs, to medical appointments, to a food pantry, or to the VA. Depending on the community, 15-40% of those requests can’t be met with existing resources, leaving people without other options. In fact, access to transportation is one of the biggest causes of unemployment and underemployment in the U.S.
In most major cities across the U.S., where most jobs aren’t accessible by public transit within 90 minutes, and the cost of owning a car is prohibitive, people like Jane are often left unable to access potentially life-changing job opportunities. Instead, they remain unemployed or severely underemployed.
United Way is fighting for access to better jobs across the U.S. and beyond. Thanks to our new partnership with Lyft, we’ve already provided over 800 free rides to 2-1-1 callers like Jane in 12 cities this year. And we’re just getting started.
If you or someone you know needs help, simply call 2-1-1. Visit 211.org to learn more.
*name changed for client privacy