Housing for Healthcare: Dallas’ RVs 4 MDs Connects First Responders with Temporary ‘Wheel Estate’

This grassroots volunteer group started by two Dallas-area moms is teaming up with peer-to-peer rental platform RVshare. Together they are helping meet the demand for temporary housing for self-isolating healthcare workers.

Dallas-created RVs 4 MDs is teaming up with RVshare, a Texas-based peer-to-peer RV rental marketplace, to connect healthcare workers with RV owners. Founded by two local moms, Emily Phillips and Holly Haggard, RVs 4 MDs is a 100-percent volunteer group created for first responders in need of temporary housing during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Phillips and Haggard saw the need for temporary housing for first responders, the organizers told Dallas Innovates via email. The pair fast-tracked a Facebook group that kicked off in late March. And interest in that group is growing at an exponential rate: RVs 4 MDs To Fight the Coronavirus currently has 25,041 members, a number that continues to rise.

The idea was hatched when Phillips was searching for a self-isolation solution for her husband, a front line emergency room doctor in Frisco, when Haggard lent them her RV that was otherwise sitting unused. Recognizing the problem stretched far past Phillips own family, the pair, who met online via Facebook, wanted to create RVs 4 MDs as a way to help others in need.

RVs 4 MDs co-founders Emily and Jason Phillips with 6-month-old Beau.

Now, “since its Facebook page launched on March 24, RVs 4 MDs has matched hundreds of first responders with an RV,” said RVs 4 MDs co-founder Emily Phillips.

Matching health care workers to local RV owners

To date, members of the grassroots Facebook group have come together to match hundreds of first responders in need of temporary housing for self-isolating purposes, it said, and Texas-based RVshare reached out to help. 

“When RVshare reached out to us about their supply of RVs, we knew this would be the right partnership to scale the effort quickly,” Phillips said.

RVshare supports the cause with peer-to-peer RV rentals

RVs 4 MDs new partner, RVshare, which says it’s the “first and largest peer-to-peer RV-sharing platform,” launched its own COVID-19 response effort in March to assist with the crisis. So far, RVshare’s Disaster Response Solution Program has more than 500 owners who are willing to donate their RVs for free or at a very reduced price.

In addition, RVshare will waive all fees for donated rentals book through their platform, according to the company. 

We wanted to “support the cause in any way we can,” RVshare’s CEO Jon Gray said in a statement. “RVs 4 MDs has started a strong movement across the country, and peer-to-peer RV rentals is our expertise.”

RVshare is a community of more than 60,000 RV owners with a platform to safely and securely book RV rentals.

RVshare, an Austin-based company founded in 2013, is leveraging its existing infrastructure in a partnership with RVs 4 MDs to meet the demand for temporary housing for self-isolating healthcare workers who are “fighting on the front lines” against COVID-19.  

“We are overwhelmed by the generosity we have seen. There are hundreds of medical workers requesting temporary housing each day.” said Phillips. 

Connecting on Facebook: RVs 4 MDs invites healthcare workers in need—and those with RVs 

“Everybody’s coming together to help each other instead of battle each other and fight each other,” Haggard told WFAA earlier this month. “People are giving $150,000 units that they’re still paying on, that they’re paying insurance on to a complete stranger.”

Within its first week, RVs 4 MDs connected RV owners with some 50 doctors across the U.S. and Canada, reported WFAA.

RVs 4 MDS wants to invite all healthcare workers in need and those with RV connections to join its group.

“We can save thousands from exposure,” it said on Facebook. But they ask folks to bear with them as they work to respond to and match everyone.

“We are a small group of volunteers—thankfully growing and getting more organized daily—who are working full time to match thousands of requests,” RVs 4 MDs said on Facebook.

Go here to find RVs for MDS on Facebook.

This story was updated on April 11, 2020 with additional information from the group.

Quincy Preston contributed to this report.

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