One of the toughest parts about being a single mom is surviving financially. This is especially true for new single moms. Part of getting back on your feet as a single mom is having the resources you need to get your life going again. And for many of us that means having a good car.
Many states and counties offer programs to help public assistance recipients, the majority of whom are single parents, purchase or lease automobiles. In some cases, states and counties work with organizations that accept donations of old cars for tax deductions. Studies show that these programs have the potential to help recipients move from welfare to the world of work.
Lack of reliable transportation is one of the biggest barriers that recipients of public assistance under the Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) face in moving from welfare to work. In rural areas, where public transportation is almost nonexistent, the challenge is even greater. The overwhelming majority of TANF recipients are single mothers. Some surveys of TANF recipients found that many of them had little or no access to a car.
Cars are such an integral part of American culture that often they are the only viable means of transportation that enable people to commute to multiple jobs, thus moving from welfare to work. State limits on the length of time a recipient may receive TANF benefits create an additional incentive for people to find work (limits vary by state), but the lack of transportation often creates a “Catch-22” for people trying to get off of public assistance: it’s much more difficult to get to and from a job without a car, but it is impossible to afford a car without a job.
Since the early 1990s, donating cars to charity has become an increasingly popular way for many Americans to dispose of older cars. IRS rules that allow donors to claim a tax deduction fueled the popularity of car donations. Proceeds from donated cars sold at auction have benefited all types of charities and nonprofit organizations.
Beginning in the mid-1990s, several states implemented car donation programs as a means of improving TANF recipients’ access to transportation. These programs match donated vehicles with welfare recipients. Some of the programs give the donated cars outright to eligible recipients, while others offer loans with little or no interest for a vehicle purchase. Still others operate leasing programs. Although people in all 50 states can donate cars to charity for a tax deduction, not every state has programs that match donated cars with single parents receiving TANF, and there is no federal program that matches welfare recipients with donated cars.
Free Charity Cars is a nonprofit that gives away donated cars all through the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii.
Some of the eligibility requirements include:
- Victims of domestic violence
- The medically needy
- Victims of natural disasters
- Families transitioning from public assistance to work
- Families living in transitional living shelters
- The working poor
- Non-profit organizations
- Military Families
To receive a car from Free Charity Cars you need to visit their website and fill out an application. They will review your application and then your story will be made to the public. From there viewers of the website (including your friends and family) can vote for you.
When a car becomes available in your area the staff will look at the applicants in the area and choose based on votes and individual stories and circumstances.
Cars are obtained through donations. Whether or not you qualify to get a car will highly depend upon the public’s car donations in your area.
If you’re on any type of government assistance (food stamps, section 8 housing, TANF, etc.) then talk to your case worker about needing a car.
Caseworkers realize that not having transportation is one of the biggest reasons the unemployed can’t find work. There are many public and private grants that help low income families to purchase cars.
In fact, one of my old friends was able to get a grant for a car when she went back to college. (The grant was around $2,000 but she found a good deal on a good running car.) Don’t be afraid to ask. There’s no shame in taking help when you truly need it. That’s what it’s there for!
Get the Car You Need
If having a vehicle is on your make or break list and is the key to providing for your family, then first talk to your caseworker and look at your options. If there’s nothing that you’re currently eligible for then search the car donations database and fill out as many applications as you can.
Do what you need to do for your family. There’s no shame in getting help and once you’re up and on your feet you can pay it forward.