Driving Lives Forward: A Path to Affordable Cars

Jun 29, 2020

Habitat for Humanity is known for building and helping financially struggling families buy homes. But in Charlottesville the non-profit is getting into the car business through a unique partnership that could serve as a model for Virginia and the nation.

Janette Kowachi says her organization – Habitat for Humanity – helps low-income families get their finances in order, so they can afford to own a home – and that means offering various services:  intensive financial coaching,  job navigation, child care support, transportation resources.

Talicia Ivery in front of her car made possible by the Driving Lives Forward program.
Credit Lakisha Brown

And that's where the program – called Driving Lives Forward – comes in.  It began with the United Way, a local car dealership called Carter-Myer and Virginia National Bank. They help  families find affordable, certified used cars and arrange loans with interest rates under 5%.

"They don’t have to spend days searching for a vehicle that they can afford," Kowachi explains. "They don’t have to worry that they are buying a lemon.  They don’t have to worry that they’re being talked into a predatory loan, and then they can get into a reliable, affordable car all while building their credit."

Without a program like this, Kowachi says, parents who lose their jobs often lose their cars and get into a spiral of debt that leads to bankruptcy. Habitat hopes Driving Lives Forward will keep people on a straight path to owning their own home.