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Ways to Work: Auto Loans for Low-Income Families

Giving a helping hand
A common complaint from low-income families and consumer advocates standing up for them is the lack of available financing options. Everybody needs to borrow money at some point or another, but the lending world leans heavily in favor of those with money and good credit. After all, lenders operate businesses, and credible borrowers tend to repay their financing more often, hence their good credit scores.

But that doesn’t negate the fact that those with poor financial histories still need to borrow money. The good news is there are non-profit organizations that recognize this fact and are striving to help that demographic meet their financing needs.

There’s a New Auto Lender in Town

A nationwide non-profit organization has been helping America’s low-income families obtain auto loans for over 26 years now. The group sought to help those in need of a reliable vehicle, but whose credit scores either only yielded very high interest rates or prevented them from qualifying for an auto loan altogether.

The program is called Ways to Work, and, since its creation, has helped 30,000 families obtain auto loans totaling over $62 million.  

The financing that Ways to Work offers usually qualifies borrowers for up to $6,000 at a flat 8 percent interest rate. The auto loans come with either 24- or 30-month terms, resulting in monthly payments of between $150 and $220. The non-profit organization claims to save borrowers between $750 and $3,000 in interest fees when compared to traditional financing opportunities available to these low-income families.

With more than 87 percent of auto loans repaid in the last 10 years, Ways to work touts a strong repayment rate, and believes their favorable terms mixed with financing education are key to its success.

Ways to Work currently has over 55 sites in 23 different states, but they hope to help more families by making their way into more states.

“This is something that deserves to be in all 50 states because it pays back far more than is put in,” Jeff Faulkner, president of Ways to Work, told the LA Times. His statements isn’t ungrounded either, as a study done by ICF International Inc. revealed that taxpayers save an average of $2.50 for every dollar invested into Ways to Work.

Faulkner’s dreams may be slowly coming to fruition, as two Michigan-based nonprofit organizations, Matrix Human Services and Spectrum Child & Family Services, recently announced they’ll be funding two new installments in Detroit.

Requirements for a Ways to Work Loan

Ways to Work has a series of qualifications that applicants must meet before the non-profit organization will grant them financing.

To qualify for a Ways to Work Auto Loan, applicants must:

  • Be employed
  • Have children
  • Meet low-income standards that are unique to each community that Ways to Work services
Additionally, applicants must have poor credit and must be ineligible for financing through traditional lenders.

Those who do qualify for financing through Ways to Work must also sit in on a financial education course in order to learn more about managing one’s finances.

Interested applicants should contact their closest Ways to Work office, which can be found on the official site’s Find a Loan Office page.