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Lyft announces plan to invest in mayor’s emergency homeless shelters

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It’s part of a larger investment, with some of the money going toward hubs for drivers

The Lyft drivers hub in Los Angeles. The ride-hailing company made its Initial Public Offering (IPO) on the Nasdaq Stock Market today.
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Just before kicking off a hotly anticipated initial public offering, ride-hailing company Lyft revealed plans this morning to invest millions of dollars into cities where it operates, starting with Los Angeles.

According to the company, those funds will support a range of projects in Los Angeles, including Mayor Eric Garcetti’s A Bridge Home program, launched last year to provide emergency shelter housing to homeless residents.

A press release indicates that the company will provide transportation to residents and staff at the temporary shelters constructed through the initiative, and Garcetti spokesperson Anna Bahr says the program will receive revenue directly from the company.

Allen Narcisse, Lyft’s Southern California general manager, said in a statement the plan was part of a “long-term commitment to support cities across the country with sustainable, accessible, and connected transportation solutions.”

Under the new program, called Lyft City Works, the company will invest the larger of $50 million or 1 percent of its profits (which don’t yet exist) into transportation and community-based project across the United States.

Not all of this money will go to LA. At Friday’s announcement, chief policy officer Anthony Foxx said Los Angeles would get about $5 million worth of investments this year.

Based on information revealed by the company, a portion of these funds will go toward hubs where drivers can spend time, charge electric vehicles, and get discounted oil changes.

Earlier this week, ride-hailing drivers protested outside of rival company Uber’s Los Angeles headquarters, arguing in part that wages paid by the companies are too low to cover car-related expenses.

Lyft also plans to invest funds into discounted fares for low-income riders of the dockless scooters it’s now distributing on LA’s sidewalks. Regulations imposed by the city on bike and scooter companies require those with 12-month permits to develop programs making the devices accessible to lower-earning residents.

Lyft’s decision to invest part of its earnings into urban infrastructure comes as cities across the country pass new taxes on ride-hailing companies. In Los Angeles County, Metro is considering its own tax on companies like Uber and Lyft, and agency staffers have suggested that revenue could go toward major transportation projects.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on how new taxes would impact the City Works initiative.

Garcetti, who sits on Metro’s Board of Directors, expressed enthusiasm about Lyft’s plans Friday.

“That spirit of corporate responsibility will guide the future of public-private partnerships that benefit residents first,” the mayor said in a statement.