EMERYVILLE, Calif. (KGO) --A national organization announced on Friday that it will offer affordable car loans to families in need.
People living in under-served communities sometimes have a hard time getting to work because they don't own a car.
Those who have a car might take it for granted and have a hard time imagining what life would be like without one.
"My son and I get up at 5 a.m. every morning to make it to school and work on time," said Ways to Work spokesperson Vivian Rahwanji, reading a letter written by a single mother who has applied for a car loan through Ways to Work.
The Ways to Work program gives out car loans to people who qualify. For example, a family of five in the Bay Area must earn an annual salary of less than $72,000.
"Anybody that you know that says I might have a little bit of trouble making ends meet," said Ways to Work spokesperson Wendell Willis. "A lot of people that think they are doing just fine, but at the end of the month may be a little short."
Ways to Work now operates in Alameda and Contra Costa counties through the Richmond-based Community Housing Development Corporation.
"Richmond is a big city --107,000 people -- and it's kind of spread out so people need to have a way to get to their job," said Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin.
Families still qualify even if their credit isn't great.
Ways to Work will lend up to $8,000 for a used car -- no down payment required. Families have up to 36 months to pay it off and, during those months, they are assigned a financial adviser who offers budgeting tips.
"We're teaching them to become bankable again. We're teaching them how to phish," Willis said.
The loan money comes from four financial institutions, one of them Bank of America, and the money to pay for the financial adviser is donated through local family foundations like The Thomson Family Foundation.
"The Thomsons are very invested in these kinds of programs that support working families in opportunities that are gonna help them increase their credit, sustain their employment, move up the economic ladder, and this just seemed like a great opportunity," said Thomson Family Foundation spokesperson Megan McTiernan.
Families must apply through The Community Housing Development Corporation in Richmond.