Being a single parent is not an easy task, and this is especially true for single mothers, who head more than 80% of single-parent households. Add to that the fact that 30% of these women were also food insecure and jobless for the entire year, and the thought of being able to afford a car on top of everything else seems to be out of reach for many.
But in many cities, cars are an absolute necessity—and when you’re a parent, makes the task of not only traveling back and forth to work a possibility, but of transporting your little ones comfortably and safely as well. Luckily, many charitable organizations recognize the need for low-income families, and especially single mothers, to have a reliable car and have programs for eligible people to receive a free car.
In this article, we’ll talk about some of these organizations and other programs out there that are available to you—as well as go over the requirements for each of them to see if you qualify for help in getting a car for free!
Overview of Organizations
The following is a list of organizations and programs aimed at helping single mothers and low-income families obtain a car for free:
- 1-800-Charity Cars
- Government TANF Benefits
- Working Cars for Working Families
In the following sections, we’ll talk about each of these options and their requirements to see which one(s) may be the best option for you!
1-800-Charity Cars is non-profit organization that is the #1 car donation and distribution charity in the country, having given over $70 million worth of vehicles since they were first established in 1996. Since then, they have given away over 9,000 cars in an attempt to provide free donated vehicles to struggling families to assist them in their transition from dependency to self-sufficiency.
The organization helps a wide range of clientele, including:
- Victims of domestic violence
- The medically needy
- Victims of natural disasters
- Families transitioning from public assistance to work
- Families living in transitional living shelters
- The working poor
- Non-profit organizations
- Military Families
They also have a list of eligibility requirements. In order to qualify, prospective applicants will need to:
- Be a resident of the United States Of America
- Be 18 years of age or older
- Have a Valid Driver’s License
- Be at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level
- Have a genuine need for a vehicle (meaning you lack any sustainable transportation)
- Have access to a computer and internet service
- Sign up and create an account on their distribution website (https://freecharitycars.org)
- Complete an online application for a vehicle.
- Have the financial means to pay for the fees such as tag, title, emissions, insurance, etc., if you are selected to receive a vehicle.
- Complete the paperwork process once awarded a vehicle.
- Be able to get to and pick up the vehicle AS SOON AS the process is complete and the vehicle is ready for pick up.
- Take financial responsibility for maintaining insurance and upkeep on the vehicle once awarded.
From there, applicants are awarded cars based on the available cars that have been donated in
their area and the order in which the applications were received. While not the quickest option
if you’re in a jam, they are still a quality organization that is definitely worth looking into!
Officially achieving non-profit status in 2017, this organization was originally conceived when Jon Doxey—the founder of CarsforMoms—witnessed the struggle his sister went through after unexpectedly losing her husband in a freeway accident. Seeing the overwhelming burdens of single-parenthood firsthand, Jon went about collecting donations of old cars from generous parties and began repairing them to give away.
To apply for this program, single parents need to be nominated by someone by filling out the form here. The form is brief and asks for the following information:
- The Nominator’s Name
- The Nominator’s E-mail Address
- The Nominee’s Name
- The Suggested Gift (Either Car, Ride, or Transit Donation)
- And a brief explanation about the nominee, their family, and current circumstances
There is also a toll-free number to call in to for those that prefer that option: 1-800-470-1210. Anyone can nominate a single parent—be it a friend, co-worker, or even their parent—so even if you need to call someone for a favor, this is definitely an option for those mothers who are in dire need for a car!
OnlineCarDonation.org is a charity that helps provide many absolutely free vehicles to families in need, social service agencies and numerous charitable organizations. They review each case submitted to them through their website and make a decision to gift a working vehicles based on their findings.
They pay special attention to families and individuals that fall within the following categories:
- Battered Women (those that are/were victims of domestic abuse)
- Those with physical challenges (but are still able to safely drive a vehicle)
- Families living in homeless shelters – (they offer assistance to those with or without children)
- Self Supporting families making the move from public assistance
- Private Non-Profit Organizations – (they support an innumerable range of charitable causes)
- Military Families – (those with loved ones on Active Duty and Veterans of the Armed Forces)
To apply for a free car, applicants are invited to fill out the form located here. After the application is submitted, the Board of Directors will review the information and if they find they’re able to assist you, they will reach out to contact you within 30 days. If 30 days pass and you don’t hear anything from them, then you are welcome to apply again!
Government TANF Benefits
TANF, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, is a government assistance program aimed at helping needy families—many of which are headed by single mothers—by gifting them with grant payments to help them cover their basic needs, of which having reliable transportation counts as a valid need.
This means that recipients can use the money provided to not only cover costs related to food and housing, but can also use the money to put towards the cost of a car!
To apply for this program, applicants will need to check with their local state welfare offices to see their individual state’s requirements. In general, applicants must be a resident of the state in which they apply as well as a U.S. citizen, legal alien or qualified alien. You must also be unemployed or underemployed and have low or very low income.
Applicants must also:
- Have a child 18 years of age or younger, or
- Be pregnant, or
- Be 18 years of age or younger and the head of your household.
If you fall within these categories, then applying for TANF benefits is one of the best options for
you in terms of helping you afford a car. While not exactly “free,” it’s definitely a means of
relieving some of the financial pressures single motherhood brings.
Working Cars for Working Families
created to ensure that working families can get, keep, and use a reliable car at fair terms.
They work with a variety of organizations that focus on supplying cars to families in need, as
well as strive to improve public policy, practices, and understanding surrounding the buying
and selling of cars. They focus on areas such as:
- Improving consumer protection to stop abuses in car sales and finance and bring fairness and transparency to the marketplace.
- Promoting non-profits that provide struggling families with cars or financing or both at subsidized rates.
- Improving data collection and analysis to better understand the benefits of and challenges to car ownership for working families.
They also maintain a list of over 120 non-profit organizations that have programs designed to
making low-interest loans for car purchases, and facilitating matched savings for car down
payments and purchases.
There’s no question that as a single parent, having a reliable vehicle is an absolute necessity. But, as a single mother especially, it can be exceptionally difficult to obtain the amount of money necessary to invest in buying a car.
Luckily, however, there are programs and organizations out there that recognize how important it is for families to have transportation that they can rely on and have made it their mission to aid these families in securing a reliable car for their needs.
Being a single parent is tough work, but there is help out there if you know where to look.
If nothing else, hopefully this article has shown you that and has helped to guide you in the right direction!