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RCIL's "Wheels for Work" program helping low-income families get transportation to work

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - If the only thing standing between you and a job is the lack of a car, the Resource Center for Independent Living may be able to help you.

The Wheels for Work program provides vehicles to low-income families.

Eligibility for the program:

• Person who is currently working full-time OR they may have a bona-fide job offer in writing from an employer, including date of hire, hours per week, and hourly wage/salary.

• Person must have a minor child under the age of 18 years old, or 19 and currently enrolled as a full-time student.

• The person has to meet the income guidelines, which is under 200% of poverty level (depends on family size).

Example:

A family of two with an annual income of $29,140

A family of three with an annual income of $36,620

There are two parts of the program:

Purchasing a vehicle:

When a consumer is approved for the program, RCIL deals with local dealerships to find good deals on vehicles that are suitable for consumer needs. They get financed through First Source Federal Credit Union and RCIL tries to stay at a limit of $7,000 maximum for purchase price of the vehicle.

RCIL then puts a $3,000 down payment on the vehicle for the consumer and the remaining balance will be for the consumer to repay through First Source.

RCIL tries to keep their payment affordable around $120-$140 a month. They also pay the first year of insurance for the consumer in their new vehicle; but do not exceed $1,500 for the year per consumer. They also pay for a year AAA membership for each consumer as well.

Repairing the vehicle:

When eligible consumers already have a vehicle and need repairs, RCIL requires that they bring in all of the documentation, including title, registration, and insurance card to verify ownership of the vehicle.

The organization then sends the consumer to get three different estimates from three different garages. RCIL then goes through the estimates thoroughly and then go with the lowest estimate in price. RCIL is only allowed to spend a certain amount on repairs, dependent on the book value of the vehicle.

Last year, the program provided 22 families with vehicles.

"It's a fabulous program," said RCIL Director of Development Diana Ellis Sorrento. "It allows people to keep their jobs, to get people around, to get children to doctor appointments, to do their daily living without having to use public transportation, which can end up costing money as well and is often times inconvenient, especially if you have children."

The grant-funded program began back in March 2008, and is funded through March of next year. Funding beyond that time will depend on the state budget.

For information on the program, you can contact RCIL at: 315-797-4642

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