"Ways to Work" Program Launches in Broward County

Natalie Horowitz
March 23, 2012

United Way of Broward County announces the launch of a new metro branch of Ways to Work, a national community lending organization that offers low- to moderate-income families access to low-cost loans to purchase or repair pre-owned cars, as well as financial education. The Ways to Work Launch will take place at Maroone Chevrolet Pembroke Pines on Tuesday, March 27 from 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

The local nonprofit partners will facilitate the Ways to Work economic empowerment program in Broward County by offering character-based $6,000 auto and $1,500 repair loans with real-world repayment expectations to qualifying working families. The program has been made possible through the generous support of national and local partners including South Florida Urban Ministries, Ways to Work, Inc., Wells Fargo, Citibank, The Walmart Foundation, Maroone, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services, Inc., JM Family Enterprises, Inc., Southeast Toyota Distributors, LLC, Publix Super Market Charities, Broward Health, Memorial Healthcare System, Broward College, as well as the Center for Working Families, a collaborative of partners including:  United Way of Broward County, Urban League of Broward County, Children’s Services Council of Broward County, Hispanic Unity of Florida, and South Florida Urban Ministries.

Ways to Work assists families who are in need of a reliable vehicle, and whose credit rating prevents them from obtaining a traditional loan or requires a very high interest rate. The program helps these families to more easily meet job demands while raising children, combats predatory lending practices targeting local families struggling to get ahead, and provides financial education to clients to help them achieve increased self-sufficiency.

“Reliable transportation is critical to breaking the cycle of poverty,” said Howard Bakalar, Senior VP of Community Impact, United Way of Broward County. “It is proven when children and families have access to reliable transportation, incomes increase and access to education and health care improves. Ways to Work is an incredible opportunity to change the face of poverty in our community as we strive to overcome barriers to financial stability.”

Data released last week by ICF International, a Fairfax, Va.-based consulting group, found Ways to Work provides a strong return on investment and is highly successful in helping underemployed families retain and improve their job status and quality of life. Currently, an estimated 19 percent of the U.S. workforce is underemployed – high-skill workers who are involuntarily working part-time or employed in low-wage jobs far below their skill level, according to a Gallop Poll. In Florida, that number is estimated at 21 – 24.9 percent of the workforce. The study, which examined families helped between 2007 and 2010, found more than half of those in the program increased their income and 94 percent improved their employment circumstances as a result of the loan. A significant percentage (82%) 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. Analysts calculate the return on investment for the program at 250 percent, or $2.50 for every $1 invested.

To qualify for a Ways to Work loan, applicants must be employed, have dependents and meet low-income standards set for each community. All approved clients lack or have poor credit histories, and are ineligible for loans through banks and other mainstream financial institutions. The Ways to Work program helps these families avoid high-cost loans or predatory lenders, and requires them to take a financial education course as part of the loan process.

The Ways to Work program guides applicants through the loan application process, and provides financial counseling on budgeting, credit repair education and financial planning. They also help clients find reliable automobiles. Approved loans are available to qualified borrowers for up to $6,000 with a flat 8 percent interest rate and 24 to 30 month repayment terms. Typical monthly payments fall between $150 and $220. Borrowers commonly save $750 to $3,000 in interest fees, compared to the traditional financing alternatives available to them.

Ways to Work, Inc. currently operates 55 sites in 23 states and has helped nearly 30,000 families access more than $60 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. In the past 10 years, Ways to Work has achieved a strong repayment rate, with more than 87 percent of the loaned funds successfully repaid. Interested applicants should call Urban League of Broward County’s Economic Services Department at (954) 625-2570 or Hispanic Unity of Florida at (954) 964-8884 ext. 216 for more information.

For more information about the Ways to Work program please call: 305-834-5214


About United Way of Broward County
United Way of Broward County is a volunteer driven, community-based, non-profit organization with a mission to focus and unite the entire community to create significant lasting change that positively impacts people’s lives. United Way of Broward County is the catalyst for change and convener of partnerships that unite the hearts, minds, and resources within the Broward community.

One in six people in Broward County have their lives touched by United Way’s funded programs – that’s more than 300,000. Every dollar donated to United Way of Broward County stays in the community, and the organization has the ability to leverage each undesignated dollar into $4 through matching grants, therefore providing a $51 million annual impact. For more information, visit www.unitedwaybroward.org.


About Ways to Work (www.waystowork.org)
Ways to Work is a unique Community Development Financial Institution in Milwaukee. Through a network of more than 50 loan offices across the country, Ways to Work provides financial education and small, short-term, low-interest loans to working families with challenging credit histories. Most clients use their loans to purchase a reliable pre-owned vehicle to enhance their ability to remain engaged in the workforce and better manage their lives. The program provides an alternative to predatory lending for people with a demonstrated commitment to achieving increased self-sufficiency and who are intent on pursuing a higher degree of success in mainstream financial markets. All agencies that operate the program are members of the Alliance for Children and Families, a sister company of Ways to Work. Both companies are part of the Families International Inc. group of companies based in Milwaukee, Wis.
 

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