For many of us, getting from home to work, school or the doctor’s office is just another part of the day. But for those with mobility and mental health challenges, transportation can be an enormous barrier to stability—for a variety of reasons. At JFS, some of our clients cannot afford to take Metro transit or Access (even the reduced fare is out of reach because clients prioritize rent, food and medications). Physical limitations can also hold clients back from public transportation, and for those with mental health issues taking the bus can be too difficult. Geography is yet another barrier—some clients live in areas that don’t have convenient public transportation, and lack of social support often means clients cannot rely on family or friends for transportation.
In 2017, Uber Health responded to this need with the launch of its Community Impact Initiative, designed to provide financial assistance and rides to more than 45 nonprofit organizations across the region. As a grant recipient of the initiative, JFS can provide clients with free rides that are used for essential medical, mental health or dental appointments. For many clients, reliable and safe Uber rides have proven to be an invaluable resource.
The ability to attend appointments
Uber Health is already filling a critical need for our clients by decreasing barriers to much-needed care and crucial health appointments. One homebound client needed multiple appointments but was very isolated. Uber Health transported her to her psychiatrist, primary care provider, dentist and specialty care providers. She is now actively engaged in her care and both medical and mental health have improved.
Another client lives with a severe anxiety disorder which makes it difficult for him to go outside. When he needed to attend his six-month appointment for medication refills, Uber Health picked him up within minutes and dropped him off just as promptly.
Adam Halpern, Director of Older Adult Services at JFS, recalls a recent instance when Uber Health was used to help a client with disabilities who lives far from the city center. “Recently, we used Uber Health to help a client attend a critical Department of Social and Health Service appointment to reinstate her Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) benefit. This benefit is crucial for her to maintain housing—and without transportation the client would have had to spend several hours commuting on multiple buses. This would have made the trip nearly impossible given her health status. Uber made it possible for her to attend the appointment and ultimately maintain this critical benefit.”
Transportation is a very real barrier for many of our clients. By helping our clients overcome this challenge, the Uber Community Impact Initiative helps us fulfill our mission to help vulnerable individuals and families achieve well-being, health and stability.