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Ways to Work loan program changes lives

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Even with sign pointing to a strengthening economy, families continue to face financial hardships but a new program is offering local residents a unique opportunity help to get on track while providing low-interest loans to purchase a new car.

Felishia Jackson proudly waved her new car keys, starting up the next chapter in her life, after months of challenges.

“I had to get on the bus, the train and another bus,” Jackson said.

After losing her job and car, she fell into debt but says Family Matter of Greater Washington steered her in the right direction.

“They actually sit with you and go through a budget, and they make sure that your income fits the budget with the car, where you'd be able to afford a car, afford the repairs, afford insurance and have extra money left over,” Jackson said.

The non-profit organization and the Ways to Work program are offering local residents a way to improve their financial situations.

“You can be a single parent, married person your income has to be approximately 40-percent of the media income in the area, you will be required to have 6-months on the job,” Tonya Jackson Smallwood, CEO of Family Matters of Greater Washington.

In the course of a year, 50 families have received auto loans, including Dana Wright.

“$221! I feel so good about that,” Wright said about the amount of her car payments, which is about half of what she used to pay for public transportation.

“I had to forfeit my family's life just to travel back and forth,” she said.

President Jeffrey Faulkner, Ways to Work, said, “according to a recent study by the Brookings institution, only one-quarter of the metropolitan area low wage and moderate wage jobs are accessible within a 90-minute one way commute by public transportation.”

But with financial education, and credit repair guidance under the program - for clients like Felishia, everyday tasks are within reach.

“We're going grocery shopping, and I have a doctors appointments,” she said.

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