Ways to Work®, a national Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) headquartered in Milwaukee, announced this week the launch of local loan offices to serve residents of Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington Counties. Ways to Work is a national community lending program that provides low- to moderate-income families the opportunity to access low-cost loans to assist in the purchase or repair of used cars needed to more easily meet job demands while raising children.
The program is available to families in need of a reliable vehicle whose credit rating does not allow them to get a traditional loan or who could only do so at a very high interest rate. The program was launched to help combat predatory lending practices. A recent study from the Brookings Institution found that even in metropolitan regions, only one-quarter of jobs in low- and middle-skill industries are accessible through a one-way ninety minute commute via public transit, as compared to one-third of jobs in high-skill industries. The study noted that in Wisconsin, proposed budget cuts for transit could lead to 25,000 jobs becoming inaccessible by transit, the majority of them affecting low-income workers.
“With as many as one in six American families living in poverty and the ranks of the underemployed growing every day, families are fighting to hold onto their jobs and maintain their quality of life,” noted Susan Dreyfus, CEO of Ways to Work and president and CEO of Families International. “Ways to Work provides access to affordable loans for reliable transportation that can help workers keep their jobs and provide a stable home for their families.”
“I applaud Ways to Work on the launch of local loan offices to serve Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington County families,” said Dan Vrakas, Waukesha County Executive.
“Safe and reliable transportation is essential to the success of working families. Child care, jobs, groceries, medical appointments, and so many other everyday tasks are often out of reach for families without a car. These affordable transportation loans will help credit-challenged families access higher paying jobs, better health care and child care. All of these outcomes, in turn, lead to stronger families and stronger communities.”
“Having reliable transportation as well as financial education will help ensure I can better manage life as a working mom and student at Marquette University, said Natasha Gregory. “I want to provide my daughter with opportunities I never had, and be an inspiration to moms trying to improve their circumstances,” she added.
Ways to Work, Inc. currently operates more than 50 sites in 22 states and to date has helped nearly 32,000 families access more than $63 million in affordable loans. The program also provides focused financial education, credit repair guidance and individual coaching that helps families become financially capable and self-sufficient.
An independent 5-year evaluation of the program found that 94 percent of clients said that the loan helped them maintain or improve their employment circumstances.
A significant percentage (82 percent) of participants were able to move off of public welfare programs, saving the federal government $18.2 million annually in reduced public assistance and higher tax revenue.
Ways to Work receives federal funding through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Job Access Reverse Commute Program and the U.S. Department of Treasury’s CDFI Program. Private sector funding has been provided nationally by Bank of America, Prudential and the Walmart Foundation. Local support has been received from M&I Foundation, WaterStone Bank and the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.
To pre-qualify for the WOW program, please call 855.WTW.LOAN. Follow Ways to Work on Facebook. Follow Ways to Work on Twitter.