Low-interest car loans in Pinellas

11/13/09 Andrea Lypka
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Low income families can have a hard time getting back on track. But a Pinellas County nonprofit is trying to help them. The Ways to Work/Partners in Self-Sufficiency program offers low-interest car loans so that parents can keep their jobs.

When Phyllis Cahan- Gaines found a new job as a youth care worker in January, she needed a reliable transportation to get to work. The divorced mother of two was low on cash and the chances for her to get a car loan were slim.

“I felt a little hopeless and I was getting ready to give up. But I have two boys and I was trying to show them that you don’t give up because things were seemingly hopeless,” Cahan said.

With help from Ways to Work, she purchased an affordable car a month ago.

The program is more that a low interest car loan for some people. It is also helping Van Dester Jalaber save money for a down payment on a house. She contacted the organization two years ago when her transportation was unreliable and qualified for a fixed-interest loan. “I was fortunate to have all my ducks in a row and with the help of the organization I purchased a reliable transportation that has not let me down since then,’ she said.

The car is a lifesaver for her because she has been a school bus driver for 6 years and starts her job at 5 a.m. She says she only pays $135 a month for the vehicle, and puts the same amount in savings.

“My goal was to have a reliable transportation and own a house one day. So the $736 will go toward the down payment on my house when I get one," she said.

The Ways to Work program manager Elaine Taylor says the program offers more than low-interest car loans. The goal of the program is to help people improve their financial state. Since 2005, about sixty car loans have been given each year to qualified applicants.

The low-rate car loan program is offered by the Family Service Centers in Pinellas County. The organization offers other services including family counseling, youth intervention services, and in-home education. Family Service Centers is also a certified rape crisis center in the county. For more information about the programs offered, visit familyservicecenters.org.

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