Nonprofit Gives Cars To Families In Need For The Holidays

December 31, 2018

Mechanic repairing a car

Three Michigan families were given the gift of transportation this holiday season. According to Detroit Free Press, the nonprofit organization Vehicles for Change gifted three vehicles on Wednesday, December 26 to three single mothers with children in need of transportation.

The three vehicles included a 2002 Chevrolet Trailblazer, a 2007 Chevrolet Malibu, and a 2007 Nissan Altima.

“There are more than 80,000 families in the state of Michigan without access to transportation,” said Phaedra Wainaina, the executive director of Vehicles for Change. “What Vehicles for Change does is given them the opportunity to pursue more gainful employment and get their kids into better school districts.”

Vehicles for Change is just one of an increasing number of organizations recognizing a link between poverty and transportation. Lack of mobility can increase economic inequality because Americans aren’t able to access jobs or better neighborhoods.

Founded in 1999, Vehicles for Change accepts donated cars, fixes them, and gives them away to families in need. Recipients must have a full-time job or job offer to qualify for a vehicle. The organization also offers training to those interested in becoming mechanics.

Vehicles for Change first began giving away vehicles in 2015. Arthur Dye, 49, is a disabled veteran who had been homeless at the time he received his used Jeep Grand Cherokee. Dye had recently gotten a job as a cook, but needed to wake up at 2:30 AM to take the bus to get to work at 6:00 AM.

To qualify for Vehicles for Change, individuals or families must have a Michigan’s driver’s license, must meet low-income guidelines, have no DUI/DWI on their driver record, not own a car, and have $500 in savings. The nonprofit gives away 25 vehicles every year.

Triumph Church, a Christian multi-site church that has five campuses located throughout Detroit, has also collected donations to buy five used cars. The church gave the vehicles, and other gifts, away on Sunday, December 23.

“We’re blessed to be able to continue a legacy of giving this holiday season,” said senior pastor Reverend Solomon Kinloch Jr., “as we help thousands of children and families living in less fortunate situations.”

Compared to the 41,000 ATVs sold in the U.S. between January and March 2017, over 79 million cars were sold worldwide that same year. Despite these high numbers of new vehicles sold, about 77% of vehicles currently on the road need repairs.

However, up to 60% of millennials (Americans between the ages of 22 and 37) are unable to cover a $1,000 emergency. Approximately 52% of Generation X (adults between the age of 38 and 53) and 40% of Baby Boomers (between the age of 54 and 72) also said they would be unable to cover a $1,000 emergency.

This means poverty and transportation aren’t only linked in terms of being unable to reach better neighborhoods and jobs but also in terms of being unable to afford the repairs of the transportation necessary to access those neighborhoods.

What’s more, according to the Northwestern Mutual’s 2018 Planning and Progress Study, the average American has up to $38,000 in personal debt. With debt payments, rental or mortgage costs, car repair costs, and the average cost of $10 per square foot to store items in your home, it’s understandable that most Americans wouldn’t be able to cover a financial emergency.

That said, organizations like Triumph Church and Vehicles for Change are not only providing transportation to those who are unable to access privileged areas to better a better life for themselves but they’re also giving those in privileged areas the ability to remain there.

“As you grow older, your expenses increase,” said Emily Holbrook, the director of planning for Northwestern Mutual. “The additional pressures that come onto the pocketbook only grow, and your disposable income shrinks in a lot of cases, even if your salary is growing.”



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