DUTCHESS COUNTY, N.Y. -- Having the means to get to a job can make the difference between living in poverty or being able to support a family.
That's what the Dutchess County Community Solutions to Transportation (CST) “Wheels to Work” program is all about. And five lucky participants received pre-owned cars free of charge Tuesday to do that just that -- have an opportunity to work.
Started in 2001, the “Wheels to Work” program is designed to help low-income residents get and keep a job, providing them reliable transportation to and from work. Qualified participants must come from a family that receives Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or whose family income is less than 200 percent of the poverty level.
“These families today not only receive a means of transportation; they receive an opportunity to improve their lives and those of their loved ones," said Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said, "From transporting their children to school activities and doctor appointments, to giving them the ability to buy nutritious food at the supermarket, these recipients will have their lives changed by the cars they have worked to earn.”
The program provides vehicles from local used car dealers to eligible individuals and provides participants training – such as car care and defensive driving – as well as assistance in obtaining a learner’s permit or driver’s license. The CST program also offers driver experience training, car maintenance instruction, and auto repairs.
The families selected to receive the vehicles were chosen based on specific program guidelines, including their work-related need for transportation. In addition, they have all displayed the perseverance and commitment necessary to continually move forward toward financial independence. For every family that receives a car and avoids temporary assistance, Dutchess County saves $1,614 a month. Within a year, that savings equal the cost of a new car.
Dutchess County Community Solutions for Transportation has benefited more than 3,000 families since 2001, providing 864 cars – along with registration and car insurance deposits – to participating families.
Among the recipients was a young, single mother of a newborn daughter. Although she has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, she works in Newburgh for a transportation company due to her lack of a vehicle. Her shifts at work vary, and she is being required to work weekends, making transportation by bus nearly impossible. Without transportation to get her daughter back and forth, she must rely on her mother to travel from Rockland County and watch her baby while she works. The vehicle she received today will provide her reliable transportation, and she is confident she’ll be able to secure a job in a career for which she studied, increasing her wages to better support herself and her daughter.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.