At the east-side apartment where he stays, Arthur Dye gets up at 3AM so he can catch the bus to his job as a cook at a youth detention center. Though the distance between is only 12 miles by car, the travel time by bus is more than two hours.
“Having a car will make a tremendous difference for me,” Arthur, 49, says. “It will allow me to work more hours, earn more money and start school in the fall. It will also let me see my grandkids more and have a closer sense of family.”
Arthur is one of four individuals who received a car at the Vehicles for Change grand opening event at its office in Detroit this morning. Vehicles for Change will offer low-income Detroit families the opportunity to own quality used vehicles for $750 to $850 so they can improve their prospects for economic success. Arthur received a 2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Since it began on the east coast in 1999, Vehicles for Change, a nonprofit organization, has provided cars to 5,000 low-income families. Data shows that 75% of those families increased their income by an average of $7,000 within the first year of owning the cars, according to Marty Schwartz, president of Vehicles for Change.
Southwest Solutions is one of the nonprofits partnering with Vehicles for Change in Detroit to recommend individuals who would benefit from the program and who have the financial wherewithal to afford the car, insurance and maintenance. Individuals participating in our workforce development and veterans-assisting programs will be given preference in our recommendation.
Arthur, who served in the Marines, participates in our Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program (HVRP). He had been living in a shelter when he enrolled in our HVRP last fall. HVRP staff Cynthia Hunter and Claudia Edmonson helped Arthur get his own apartment and are connecting him with other resources he needs.
Arthur has also been receiving financial coaching from Grace Meyer, Center For Working Families coordinator at Southwest Solutions. Grace had been helping Arthur repair and establish his credit, and she recommended Arthur to Vehicles for Change as a good candidate for the program. To pay for the Jeep, Arthur took out a one-year, low-interest loan for $800 from a lending partner working with Vehicles for Change. Arthur will build credit in repaying the loan.
Arthur will be attending a community college in the fall to begin working on a degree in criminal justice. He hopes to go to law school after getting his Bachelor’s.
“When you don’t have a car, it really limits your options,” Arthur says. “Now I feel I have the chance to move forward with my life and take advantage of the opportunities in front of me.”
Vehicles for Change acquires almost all of its cars through donations. The cars are repaired to be in good working condition, and each car is warrantied for six months. If you would like to donate your used car to Vehicles for Change or learn more about the program, visit its website or call 855-820-7990.