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 DHS News October 2013     

 

Community Auto Program Gets People Moving

The Office of Community Services assisted in securing a discretionary grant to boosted the goals of both the Department of Human Services and its partner, North Hills Community Outreach (NHCO), in helping people become more self-sufficient.

The $90,000 grant expanded financial eligibility criteria for NHCO’s Community Auto program, allowing an additional 21 people with household incomes at 125 percent of federal poverty income levels buy cars for $750 plus tax, registration and license. The cars, which are donated to Community Auto, allowed these new car owners to either work additional hours and/or search for better employment opportunities and thus increase household income.

Fifty-three people in all became car owners in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 through the Community Auto program, including those who were able to participate because of the discretionary grant. NHCO is a partner with the Office of Community Service (OCS) in the office’s self-sufficiency outreach efforts and sought to expand Community Auto to help people overcome an obstacle to independence. John Litz, OCS Planner, assisted NHCO with a Community Services Block Grant discretionary application to reach its goal.

“Transportation has been identified as a key barrier to acquiring employment. Public transportation is limited. It doesn’t run 24/7 or run to areas where employment opportunities exist,” said James Faulks, Program Monitor for OCS. Besides securing or improving employment, acquisition of cars helps Consumer Auto participants improve their families’ lives in other ways, such as making sure children get to school, the doctor, or even recreational activities.  “Those are the social benefits that help keep families strong,” James said.

A vehicle consultant examines cars to recommend which can be used and which should be turned over to an auction. Proceeds from sales are returned to the program. Community Auto is a 10-year-old program that became part of NCHO three years ago. To improve success rates, NCHO requires Community Auto participants to attend a class to learn how to care for their vehicle. They also are given gas cards for six months, child car seats if needed, a AAA+ membership, a one-year warranty and post-sale repair and advice. Participants must pay for their own insurance.

“Not only are participants excited about their freedom from transportation worries, they are relieved of the worry of being a burden to others,” said Pamela Lindenberger, Community Auto Services Coordinator.

“We have a lot of single moms. This is really a help for them,” added Susan Rohm, Assistant Director of NHCO.  “We’re very pleased and happy to have this partnership with the county.”

For more information on the Community Auto program, visit www.communityauto.org. For more about OCS, please visit the DHS OCS webpage.

 

 


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