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Lotus House - City Transport for High Special Needs Homeless Women, Youth and Children

High special needs homeless women, youth and children need safe transportation for medical/mental health appointments and job interviews.

Photo of Donna MacDonald
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Written by

Lotus House now assists over 1,000 low to no income homeless women, youth and children per year, most with histories of being victims of violence and trauma.  They need safe and free transportation to medical/mental health and other service appointments as well as for work and job interviews.  We have tried to assist with regular vans and our service staff, but what is needed are two ELECTRIC wheelchair accessible vans with dedicated drivers.  Providing free, green transportation that meets their needs in a safe and secure way helps these women, youth and children heal and regain independence.

Describe who will use your solution (1,000 characters)

Demographically, women, youth and children admitted to the program have been 74% African American/Black and 26% Caucasian/Other and 22% are Hispanic. All women/youth admitted have no income or are well below the poverty line. 96% of our clients report suffering domestic violence, child abuse, violent crimes and/or other traumatic events recently or in the past. 100% have urgent/unmet medical conditions, and 76% have urgent/unmet mental health issues upon entry. Lotus House provides specialized programming for homeless veterans, youth and other special needs populations. Close to half those in the shelter are children and 2/3 are impacted by physical, behavioral, emotional, developmental and/or learning disabilities. Approximately 2/3 of the children have one or more problems such as mental health issues (53%), developmental delays (30%), physical disabilities, vision, or hearing problems (6%), and chronic health issues (21%).

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Prototype - you have built a prototype and tested it with potential users

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

The mission of Sundari Foundation, dba Lotus House Women’s Shelter, is to nourish and uplift women, youth and children experiencing homelessness by providing healing sanctuary, support, education, tools and resources that empower them to improve the quality of their lives on every level, achieve greater self-sufficiency, and build brighter futures. See: and,,

Size of your team or organization

  • 51-250

Funding Request

  • $100,000

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

Purchase of two ELECTRIC wheelchair accessible vans, driving expenses (gas, insurance, maintenance) and two qualified, dedicated drivers would allow us to assist over 1,000 high special needs homeless women, youth and children per year. They need free and safe, trauma free transportation for the many medical/mental health, job related and other services they must obtain. Services for the homeless will never involve 'making money' - we will always have to seek donations and grants to fund all of our many services (see our website). However, we are in the very lengthy process of applying to the Florida Dept. of Transportation to obtain a van, but not all costs will be covered. Hopefully in a few years we will have one. This funding would allow us to provide this much needed service right now, allowing thousands of the most vulnerable and needy in our community to access the programs and services they desperately need to regain their health and dignity.

Describe how you would measure the success of your pilot (1000 characters)

Records of current and future trips and the programs and services accessed by these high special needs homeless women, youth and children will be maintained to show the increase in ridership and access to services this funding would allow for. User satisfaction surveys will be distributed for participant feedback. Counseling and case management staff meet regularly to discuss program outcomes and client needs and data and feedback inform our programming changes going forward. Funding will be recognized on our website along with program outcomes. Annual report: See also:

Attachments (1)


Lotus House annual newsletter.


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Photo of Mindi Knebel

Hi Donna MacDonald  great proposal here! Serving those in need from an access to care stand point is something that my company, Kaizen Health, holds near and dear to our heart. Wishing you the best on your proposal efforts and excited to see where this idea takes you moving forward.

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