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Local Families Receive Vehicles from ‘Wheels to Work’ Program
Poughkeepsie… Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro joined the County Department of Community & Family Services (DCFS) and Dutchess County BOCES today to present five local families with pre-owned vehicles as part of the Community Solutions to Transportation (CST) “Wheels to Work” program.
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 (TANF) or whose family income is less than 200 percent of the poverty level.
County Executive Molinaro said, “These families today not only receive a means of transportation; they receive an opportunity to improve their lives and those of their loved ones. From transporting their children to school activities and doctor appointments, to giving them ability to buy nutritious food at the supermarket, these recipients will have their lives changed by the cars they have worked to earn.”
DCFS’s approach to help transition residents to work is a multi-faceted one that includes work skills training, daycare for eligible families, and the Community Solutions for Transportation program provided under contract by Dutchess County BOCES. “Wheels to Work” 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.
These vehicles will help families obtain and retain employment, acquire jobs with more hours or higher pay, gain access to higher education to increases the recipients’ wage potential, or take their children to and from school.
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 equals the cost of a new car.
DCFS Commissioner Sabrina Jaar Marzouka said, “Each of the recipients has worked hard to earn their vehicle today, and we are confident these vehicles will help them become self-sufficient. Since the program began 90 percent of the recipients have remained independent from temporary assistance. These outcomes speak volumes to the success of the program.”
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 today's recipients is 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.
Through the Community Solutions for Transportation program, 300 Dutchess County residents have received their New York State learner’s permit; 999 people participated in driving experience classes; 469 individuals completed the five-hour, pre-licensing class; 460 passed their state road test and received a driver’s license; and 740 vehicle repairs were approved on behalf of program participants since 2001.
Dr. Sherre Wesley, Assistant Superintendent for Business Services at Dutchess BOCES, said, “We are happy to collaborate with the Department of Community & Family Services to make the ‘Wheels to Work’ program, which has benefited hundreds of local families over the past decade, a success. Our neighbors who have chosen to take part in this program undertake the hard work needed to be successful, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with Dutchess County to greatly impact lives through ‘Wheels to Work.’ ”
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