Program still offering deals on wheels

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 6, 1999

A program that helps MFIP families acquire reliable transportation is hoping to get another year of funding.

Monday, December 06, 1999

A program that helps MFIP families acquire reliable transportation is hoping to get another year of funding.

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Semcac’s Transportation Assistance Program offers loans up to $750 for the purchase of a vehicle or to make minor repairs.

&uot;In order to qualify, the applicant has to be on MFIP or illegible,&uot; said Elaine McGarry, director of the program said. MFIP is Minnesota Family Investment Program.

Also, the applicant needs a valid Minnesota driver’s license and liability insurance. Applications are taken through the Private Industry Council and referred to Semcac.

The first TAP initiative is called Paving the Way. It allows families on MFIP to get reliable vehicles at a price they can afford.

TAP, which serves 11 counties in southern Minnesota, gets quite a few cars that are donated from residents of the 11 counties. Generally, some minor repairs have to be made before the cars are added to Semcac’s lot. Each car, regardless of year or model, is sold at $750, McGarry said.

The organization received its dealer’s license last June, which makes transferring the cars to applicants less time consuming.

The second part of TAP includes loans for minor repairs on vehicles already owned by the applicant. Semcac offers up to $750 for repairs.

For both programs, TAP offers a 24-month loan at 8 percent interest for the cars. The loans are financed through Norwest in Rochester.

&uot;The average payment is usually only $33 a month,&uot; said McGarry.

The loans also help applicants to establish positive credit.

&uot;That’s another reason for the program,&uot; McGarry continued. &uot;If they had poor credit, this is a way for them to redeem themselves and establish some positive credit.&uot;

While the applicants do pay for the car and repair loans, initial repairs on the donated vehicles are paid for by Semcac. That and all other costs of the program are covered through donations and a grant from the McKnight Foundation.

Although the grant was originally set to expire this year, McGarry has asked to extend the grant until the end of 2000. She’s still awaiting word from McKnight.

The program has helped more than 100 families in the 11-county area since it began in June, 1998.

In Freeborn County, five Paving the Way loans have been granted, as well as eight loans for minor repairs.

Donations are still needed. Those interested in donating vehicles may call toll-free, 1-877-314-1868.