How a Chula Vista-based Nonprofit is Helping Low-Income Families Go Green

A Chula Vista-based nonprofit social services organization is doing its part to reduce carbon emissions, especially in communities hardest hit by air pollution, by helping low-income families buy electric vehicles.

MAAC, formerly known as the Metropolitan Area Advisory Committee, recently launched its Electric Vehicle Access Program. Those interested in applying should visit the program website at Applications will be accepted until December 1.

Pollution tends to be worse for people who live in low-income communities, said Flora Barron, director of economic development at MAAC.

“When you look at, say, South County, you see this national town, parts of Barrio Logan, along the border, that these communities are heavily impacted by pollution and therefore are most in need of. cleaner vehicles, ”she added. .

However, many residents of low-income neighborhoods have been reluctant to consider switching to electricity due to barriers such as purchase price, vehicle range, availability of charging stations, and generally lack of knowledge about cars.

How it started

The association began advocating several years ago for the installation of charging infrastructure in low-income communities, but found that, when it was installed, the stations were underutilized due to the low number of owners, said Barron.

“We started to identify, in a very organic way, the additional challenges posed as barriers to owning electric vehicles,” she said. “The State of California invests a lot of money in incentives and discounts and makes them available to low-income people. The problem is (accessibility). It’s a very bureaucratic process.

MAAC then partnered with BQuest Foundation – an organization that funded green projects in San Diego – and contacted the Beneficial State Foundation, which administers a program that provides grants and funding to income-eligible Californians to purchase vehicles. green, on accessibility challenges. .

“As a result of those conversations, we were asked to manage their dollars in the San Diego area,” said Barron.

With $ 2 million, the non-profit organization launched its program to provide low-interest loans of 3.99% to 5.99% for people with low credit scores.

How it works

Low and moderate income ($ 60,000 or less per year) who apply can get up to $ 11,000 in grants and remittances. They can expect to receive a response within 10 days rather than the three-month average with other programs, Barron said.

An essential part of the program is financial literacy coaching on topics such as budgeting, banking, and improving one’s credit rating. The MAAC also educates participants on the benefits of switching to electric vehicles.

“The types of training and education we offer are all-inclusive: from choosing the right vehicle to suit your budget, but also your needs such as your travel habits,” she said.

MAAC’s outreach is “very targeted” towards communities heavily affected by pollution in the region, Barron said.

“It’s really grassroots awareness. So we have staff who go to these communities and they stand outside the grocery stores, they are (distribution of leaflets) in affordable housing complexes, ”she said.

Marysol Tapiz is a resident of Chula Vista who participated in the MAAC program and is the first owner of an electric vehicle. She is one of 10 participants who bought a car under the program, and MAAC estimates they will have about 70 more on the road by June.

“There is no one in my family who owns an electric vehicle. We’re too scared of running out of power because there was just no education about it, ”said Tapiz, who owns a 2018 hybrid vehicle.“ I’d be more comfortable going all-electric. now because they know how it works. “

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