Getting to and from work just got easier for six residents of the City of Miami’s District 5. Thanks to the Martin Luther King Economic Development Center’s (MLKEDC) Wheels to Work program, the six    residents each received a new 2016 Nissan Versa on Jan. 18.

The ceremony was held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in celebration of Dr. King’s commitment to community service and his fight against poverty. City of Miami Commission Chairman Keon Hardemon sponsored the program as part of his anti-poverty initiative.

“The City of Miami is home to many working, but poor families. Owning a dependable car can be the difference between employment and unemployment, accessing childcare or participating in children’s school activities,” Hardemon said.

The mission of the MLKEDC Wheels to Work program is to provide low-income residents of District 5 an opportunity to obtain a car loan to purchase a reliable, affordable car that will assist them with maintaining employment and pursuing education or job training. The MLKEDC partnered with companies in the banking, automotive, and insurance industries to ensure that residents received cars at discounted prices and were provided with affordable automobile insurance coverage.

“Many of these families also have poor credit history, preventing them from obtaining a loan necessary to purchase a car. Wheels to Work will allow these families to become car owners, many for the first time, and build their credit rating,” Hardemon added.

Although credit history was not used to determine eligibility, new car recipients are required to attend MLKEDC workshops on financial literacy, life skills, and vehicle maintenance. They are also required to perform eight hours of community service per month for 36 months beginning February 2016 at a location provided by the MLKEDC.

The six recipients were selected by the MLKEDC and five other stakeholders in the community: Unite Here Local 355, Notre Dame D’Haiti Catholic Church, Foundation of Community Assistance & Leadership (FOCAL), Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, and the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce.

Individuals nominated by a community stakeholder were required to have low to moderate income, reside within the City of Miami District 5, demonstrate a transportation hardship, and provide proof of employment for the past year.