Lyft and Uber have collectively donated over $20,000 to provide free rides for those seeking domestic violence services, Mayor Lori Lightfoot's office said Thursday. These funds will be directed to the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline, which connects services for those who have experienced domestic violence. Access to these services is critical now more than ever before as the Hotline has seen a slight uptick in calls over the past several weeks since COVID-19 has spiked, and as the stay-at-home order was put into place, city officials said.
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"We understand that the 'Stay at Home' order may place an additional burden for residents who are already experiencing violence at home or in the workplace, which is why the City of Chicago is working with all of our partners to make sure those who need shelter or refuge from violence can get it when they need it," Lightfoot said.
The latest citywide data from the Hotline shows a marked increase of domestic violence calls since the COVID-19 crisis took hold. For the month of March alone, the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline experienced a 6% increase in calls in Chicago compared to March 2019. The hotline has also received 30 additional texts for domestic violence claims in Chicago compared to March 2019, and on March 30, 2020 the hotline received 104 calls, the highest daily volume in over a year.
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Residents seeking transportation and other services to flee a violent situation, which includes domestic violence and human trafficking, can contact the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline which is available 24/7 directly at 1-877-TO END DV (1-877-863-6338 voice or 1-877-863-6339 TTY). Operators will then deploy a driver from either Lyft of Uber to the location to pick up the rider and transport them to a new location of their choosing. The system will work to pair the requester with the closest driver in the area, and the requester's privacy will be protected by personnel at the Hotline.
In addition to providing ride codes for victims fleeing violence, Lyft has also donated $10,000 in ride codes to help in bringing food and supplies to the many people who are unable to leave their home at this time. All residents, both current Lyft riders or first-time users, can use codes CHICAGOACCESS20 and CHICAGORELIEF20 for a one-time $25 credit available for use on a first-come, first-utilized basis.