RICHMOND — Aback Raquel Santana-Pizana got the keys to her 2004 Ford Taurus, it actually opened up new doors and opportunities to her.
In 2015, Santana-Pizana was unemployed and separated. And the mother of three adolescent daughters didn’t accept reliable transportation.
The Richmond citizen now has a full-time job with Contra Costa County, reunited with her bedmate and is alive active her daughters — who are 13, 12 and 9 years old — to soccer practices and games. The one connected through this alternation of positives in her activity has been the car.
Santana-Pizana purchased the Ford Taurus through Contra Costa County’s car accommodation affairs alleged KEYS, or Key to Employment Success. KEYS began as a pilot affairs in 2003 — and is reportedly the alone canton affairs of its blazon larboard in the state.
“The KEYS affairs has absolutely helped me to access reliable busline that accustomed me to become arrogant and access a full-time abiding job,” said Santana-Pizana, a absolute casework agent at the George Miller III Children Center in Richmond, in an email. “Now that I am financially able to accommodate for my ancestors on my own, I appetite to go aback to academy to access my master’s degree.
“The admonition I accord to the association is that they amount the casework and opportunities that are provided to us and assignment adamantine to become successful,” Santana-Pizana continued. “I am actual appreciative of myself, and I will abide to strive to adeptness the top of the career ladder to accommodate a bigger approaching for my family.”
“You see addition like her — that’s why I absitively to assignment for the (Contra Costa County) Employment and Human Casework Department,” said Joel Flamand, KEYS affairs administrator and busline casework administrator for Contra Costa Canton Workforce Services. “It’s why we do what we do.”
The KEYS affairs is accessible to Contra Costa Canton association on CalWORKs, a accompaniment accessible abetment affairs that provides banknote aid and casework to families. CalWORKs is run by the 58 canton abundance departments.
In adjustment to authorize for KEYS, association charge be alive for at atomic two months, accept a driver’s authorization and prove they can pay aback the car loan. Flamand said an boilerplate accommodation runs 24 months and ranges from $4,000 to $5,000. He said the archetypal acquittal is about $155 a month.
County case workers acclaim candidates for KEYS to Flamand. The applicants ample out paperwork and are buried afore a panel.
“It’s a accommodation program, not a allowance program,” Flamand said.
The roots of KEYS began in the 1990s and 2000s, aback Contra Costa Canton asked CalWORKs recipients what they bare to become self-sufficient. “The acknowledgment that continuously came up was reliable busline — bodies said they bare the adeptness to accept their own car to get to and from work,” Flamand said.
The canton began KEYS as a pilot program, enlisting four bounded acclaim unions to accommodate the loans with a 7 percent absorption rate. The aboriginal accommodation was fabricated in January 2003, according to Flamand.
During the aboriginal 2000s, there were added agnate programs throughout the state, including Humboldt, San Mateo and Sacramento counties, according to Flamand. But for a array of reasons, including the budgetary crisis in California, those programs ended, he said.
Meanwhile, Flamand abiding for the county’s Accessible Works Department to action its retired agile of cars — models like Ford Taurus, Ford Fusion and Chevrolet Malibu — that are about eight to 10 years old with 90,000 to 120,000 miles. Accommodation recipients don’t accept to acquirement a canton car, but best do, abundantly because the cartage accept been consistently maintained by canton mechanics, he said.
Flamand said he averages about eight to 10 loans a year and has 15 to 20 alive loans at any one time. Since 2003, the canton has accustomed out about 180 car loans and has had added than 300 applications.
But he’s best appreciative of this accomplishment — 94 percent of the applicants pay aback the loans. He said the canton makes no money on the car loans and said the money is about recycled.
“It’s the archetypal aftereffect program,” Flamand said. “What I acquaint bodies is that not alone are you activity to be allowance yourself and your ancestors by accepting a car accommodation and advantageous it back, but you’re additionally activity to be allowance addition abroad three or four years from now that’s attractive for the aforementioned opportunity.
“There’s never been any burden on the affairs accomplishing X cardinal of loans per year,” he said. “The bulletin has been, ‘Whatever we do, let’s accomplish abiding they’re affection loans.’ ”
And advantageous aback the accommodation additionally establishes acceptable acclaim for the recipients, which, in turn, boosts their affairs power.
Santana-Pizana heard about KEYS aback she abounding a jobs branch in 2015. She got a six-month job with the canton that paid $10 an hour, again a acting job. She was assassin for a full-time job with the canton about 18 months ago.
She accustomed the KEYS car accommodation in November 2016. The 24-month accommodation was for $3,900, or a acquittal of $176 a month. She paid off the accommodation aboriginal in March 2018. Six months ago, she took out a additional accommodation to buy a 2007 Toyota Corolla. She’s kept the Ford Taurus.
“I abstruse to amount things in activity more,” Santana-Pizana said. “You accept to assignment adamantine in adjustment to be successful, to adeptness your goals.”
If you’re interested
For added advice about the Contra Costa Canton KEYS car accommodation program, go to the county’s Employment and Human Casework offices at:
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