Grants for paying for car and automobile repairs.

Low-income individuals and welfare recipients may be able to qualify for transportation assistance from the federal government or non-profits. The program can help pay for car repairs, such as new tires, transmissions, and other needed work. The service that they have created is known as Job Access and Reverse Commute, or JARC. It is limited in scope and funding, and is run by a number of non-profit organizations across the nation.

Only a small number of towns, cities and counties will offer car repair assistance from JARC. When there is funding, a focus will be on assisting individuals who need transportation for work, educational, or job training reasons. However even if the applicant does not qualify for free car repairs using this federal government assistance program, there are also non-profits that may be able to assist with any critical auto work. There may be grants issued from local non-profits that partner with the Federal Transit Administration on JARC or even low interest loans to pay for maintenance as well as emergency repairs to trucks or cars.

This federal government funded grant program has a goal of addressing the transportation challenges of the low income, working poor, and those who need a car or auto to get to work. There is also car repair assistance for parents with children, including single mothers or dads. The money needs to be used to pay for transportation challenges that will either help people obtain and/or keep their job/employment. In addition to providing individuals with grants or cash, JARC may also offer micro-loans that can be used to repair cars and trucks or aid for other general transportation assistance and services.

Examples of transportation assistance provided

All of the assistance provided revolves around ensuring people have a safe and reliable car to get back and forth to work. For example, many entry-level jobs may be located outside of a city in a suburban area. Public transportation may not be able to access these areas. So low-income individuals who live in the inner city, urban, or rural neighborhoods can have difficulty accessing those jobs from their current homes. This is one examples of a challenge that JARC was created to address.





Funds from the government Job Access and Reverse Commute program may be able to assist with those expenses related to transportation. A key being the assistance provided, such as free money to pay for automobile repairs and related transportation costs, is focused on the individual becoming self-sufficient. So any funds paid out need to be able to allow individuals to either obtain a job in those situations or keep their existing employment.

In addition to the distance that may be involved, many entry level-jobs require the individual to work on weekends or late at night, when other conventional and public transit services are either non-existent or operate at reduced hours. Job Access and Reverse Commute can help in those situations too.

Other examples where JARC can help is to address the fact that many employment related-trips involve a employee needing to access multiple destinations including reaching childcare facilities or other services, so a car would be needed in these cases. The bottom line is that anything have to do with transportation, such as repairs, maintenance, new tires, etc. may be able to be addressed from JARC.

The government provides money to non-profit organizations around the county, and the assistance is not offered directly to individuals. Rather anyone who is interested in receiving financial assistance for their car repairs, maintenance and transportation needs will have to apply directly to a non-profit. Some agencies may provide this JARC assistance as part of a program known as Ways to Work.

How to apply for a grant to repair a car

This program has very limited funding, and only a small number of non-profits may have cash assistance from JARC to provide to low income individuals. The best place to call to see if it is offered in your local town or city is the United Way hotline at 211. Not only may they have information on government grants, but they also may have other suggestions to families that need their car fixed. Those non-profits would usually be the agency that accepts applications for any resources available.





If the Job Access and Reverse Commute program is not offered in your county, then a community action agency may have other suggestions or referrals for you. A case manager may be able to tell you about other car repair or transportation assistance programs. As there may also be grants provided by a church, Catholic Charities, local Salvation Army center, or other not-for-profit organization. Learn more on community action agency resources.

There may also be low cost loans available to pay for car repairs. Non-profits, such as a local credit union, may be able to offer funds to pay for emergency repair bills so that the individual can get to their job. Some local banks may also lend out money to low income households pay for a variety of transportation costs, such as critical maintenance work, repairs, new tires, and much more. These programs will often be run in partnership with the federal government Job Access and Reverse Commute Program. Locate additional information on loans for low income families.

Each agency will also have their own conditions that need to be met by applicants. For example, in general, approval for the 0 percent interest loans is not based on an applicant’s credit ratings. The application criteria for a grant will be very similar. Most organizations will instead look at an applicant’s budget and overall financial condition. They will then check to see if the applicant has outstanding warrants, traffic or parking tickets, or if the individual has a history of unemployment fraud.

By Jon McNamara

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