Despite much talk about the future of regional transit, the reality is for the foreseeable future, having a car is almost a necessity in this region if you want to be able to get to work on time, visit the doctor, go shopping – do all the things needed for a modern life.

However, many Metro Detroiters don’t have a car, and that due to lack of transportation options, locks them into poverty. To help deal with that, the group Vehicles for Change recently awarded 10 vehicles to people in need.

“Through this program, I am now able to drive to work every day,” said Detroiter Gancy Littles, Vehicles for Change’s most recent car recipient. “I know it will open up doors and opportunities for me. I recommend the program to anyone.”

According to Vehicles for Change, a study they did found that 75 percent of Vehicles for Change recipients got better jobs and/or boosted their earnings an average of $7,000 within the first year.

How does it work? The program guarantees low-interest car loans, under $1,000, helping recipients build credit while achieving pride of ownership.

In addition, the vehicles are repaired as needed before being sold and carry a six-month/6,000-mile warranty.

The full qualifications are here, but basically, you need to be currently employed full time (minimum 30+ hours per week), have a current valid Michigan Driver’s license prior to submitting of application, qualify as low income under their guidelines, need a car for employment purposes, you do not own any other car nor have one available to you and have no insurance violations with SOS.

You also need savings of $500 to cover the cost of insurance, taxes, tags and title and be insurable with no DUI/DWI on record and drug free. You also must have parental responsibility if under the age of 25. There are special conditions if you’re currently enrolled in school.

Although Detroit is the “Motor City,” more than a quarter of households in the city do not have a car.

Greg Packer, CEO of AccessPoint and Advisory Board Chair of Vehicles for Change, and Jim Mack, Vice President of AccessPoint, participated in the car awards ceremony. One of the vehicles awarded, a 1998 Mercury Mystique, belonged to Mack’s late mother.

“I’m delighted that our family can contribute to another family’s climb toward greater personal and financial independence,” said Mack.

Five of the people who received cars also got $100 Shell gas cards, courtesy of AccessPoint. The gas cards will become part of all future Vehicles for Change car awards in Detroit. “We know that reliable transportation is one of keys to consistent employment,” said Packer.  “The gas cards help the car owners get off to a good start.”

The vehicles were the last of 28 car awards made available through a grant from Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency (Wayne Metro). The organization says that a new grant from Wayne Metro will soon be designated for additional car awards by Vehicles for Change. Wayne Metro has been providing services to low and moderate income individuals and families since 1971.

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