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Local Families Receive Vehicles from ‘Wheels to Work’ Program

Published: 10/18/2019

For More Information Contact:

Colleen Pillus, (845) 486-2000

Poughkeepsie … Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro joined the County Department of Community & Family Services (DCFS) and Dutchess County BOCES today to present seven local families, including a veteran, with pre-owned vehicles as part of the Community Solutions to Transportation (CST), also known as the “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 federal poverty level.

County Executive Molinaro said, “More than just a vehicle, Dutchess County is giving recipients a chance at a better life – the ability to obtain or augment their employment, the means to take their children to doctor’s appointments and school events, the chance to benefit from all the advantages reliable transportation affords us. These vehicles, and the opportunities they symbolize, are the result of these recipients’ efforts and dedication to changing their lives, and we look forward to each of them writing their own success story, beginning today.” 

DCFS’s approach to helping transition residents to work is a multi-faceted one that includes work skills training, daycare for eligible families, and the CST 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 vehicle 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 who receive vehicles are qualified 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 pre-owned a car and avoids temporary assistance, Dutchess County saves an average of $1,614 a month. Within a year, that savings equals the cost of a new car.

DCFS Commissioner Sabrina Jaar Marzouka said, “Providing an eligible individual with a pre-owned vehicle to secure employment is one of our most cost-effective programs. 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.”

Among today's recipients is a young couple raising their infant son. The father is working full-time to support the family while the mother stays home to look after their son. The couple lives in Beacon, and the father travels to Hopewell Junction five days a week to work and support his family. He must currently rely on the generosity of coworkers for transportation to work to get him to the job site by 6 a.m. Even working a full-time job, it is difficult for this family to make ends meet. With reliable, personal transportation, the father will be able to take on the second job he’s been interested in but couldn’t accept, due to lack of transportation. Additionally, having personal transportation will create an opportunity for the mother to gain work hours once their son is older.

Dutchess County’s Community Solutions for Transportation has benefited more than 3,500 families since 2001, providing 909 cars, including three vehicles donated to local veterans, along with registration and car insurance deposits.

Through the Community Solutions for Transportation program, 311 Dutchess County residents have received their New York State learner’s permit; 1,042 people participated in driving experience classes; 497 individuals completed the five-hour, pre-licensing class; 489 passed their state road test and received a driver’s license; and 749 vehicle repairs were approved on behalf of program participants since 2001.

Dr. Richard M. Hooley, Dutchess BOCES District Superintendent said, “In the short time I have been affiliated with Dutchess BOCES and this program, I have been struck each year by the impact transportation plays in the lives of the recipients. It is hard to find a program more satisfying in its power to create opportunities and assist individuals and families. The support from the County and the agencies involved underscores for everyone the meaning of community and good neighbors.”

County Executive Molinaro will discuss funding for the “Wheels to Work” program and other transportation initiatives when he presents his 2020 Executive Budget Address on Wednesday, October 30th at 10 a.m. in the Legislative Chambers, 22 Market Street in Poughkeepsie, in advance of the November 1st deadline required by the Dutchess County Administrative Code. The County Executive’s Budget Address can be viewed live on the County’s website, Later that evening on the 30th, at 6:30 p.m., County Executive Molinaro and Budget Director Jessica White will host a countywide tele-town hall forum when residents will have the opportunity to participate in a live conversation about the 2020 County Budget, learn key details, ask questions and share feedback. County Executive Molinaro will also host a series of 2020 Executive Budget town hall forum events throughout the county during the month of November.