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Program offers electric vehicles for low-income families

Metropolitan Area Advisory Committee on anti-poverty, established in 1965 to ensure federal and state dollars designated for anti-poverty work were invested in lower income communities of color in San Diego County. Now, headquartered in Chula Vista, MAAC has a budget of $60 million, nearly 500 employees, and has more than 30 sites across the region.

In MAAC’s part of its ongoing work for equitable access to clean transportation, it partnered with BQuest Foundation to offer nearly $2 million in low interest rate loans for the purchase of electric vehicles. The Electric Vehicle Access Program is promoting the adoption of plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles in low to middle income communities, increase renewable energy usage and reduce carbon emission.

Eligible San Diego County residents who apply could receive up to $11,000 in grants and rebates. Poor credit is not a barrier, with the MAAC program providing access to loans with interest rates as low as 3.99-5.99%.

This program has 75 available slots in San Diego County, with an additional 75 slots in Central Valley, which will be processed on a first come, first-served basis. Applications are open now until December 1.

“We realized navigating the programs available to low-to-moderate income individuals and families can be complicated and a deterrent to them purchasing an EV. We partnered with MAAC to create an all-inclusive approach that tackles each barrier to EV adoption,” said Kara Ballester, president of BQuest Foundation in a press release. “Through this program participants will get individualized support and education all the way through the point of purchase.”

With the goal of ensuring equitable access for all communities, Beneficial State Foundation and Center for Sustainable Energy have also provided funding for this program and were also integral to shaping the program design.

Flora Barron, MAAC director of Economic Development said much of what MAAC does is stabilizes families.

“My department’s objective is to help families thrive,” she said. “Hopefully, they are starting from a stable foundation and are able to grow from that. Whether it is furthering their income, financial assets, developing the financial or economic power of lower income households in communities.”

Barron said the story of this program dates back several years when the organization advocated for charging infrastructure in lower income communities. It was able to provide charging stations at its headquarters, its charter school in Chula Vista, and a few of its affordable housing properties.

“We observed that the charging infrastructure was underutilized,” she said. “Knowing that many of our tenants either do not have credit or might have lower credit we approached a private foundation to see it they would be interested in underwriting loans. They underwrote $2 million in loans, so last year we piloted a program that enabled people to access these loans. Even with credit scores as low as 550, they could still qualify.”

Barron said they learned even with lower interest loans the vehicles were still expensive, so they helped people also access state incentives and rebates to lower the purchase price. She said this was also challenging for its staff, and consumers with a lot of “bureaucracy and hoops.”

“Over time, we evolved our program,” she said. “We started providing individual assistance and coaching to people through the point of purchase. It includes financial coaching, electric vehicle education, preparing them for the purchasing process.”

Barron said today, the program is specifically tailored to the families applying, and by contacting the state administrators of the rebates and grants programs began working together as partners, making access to the rebates and grants easier and faster for the consumer. She said people working with the program can now get responses from the grants and rebates in around 10 days, whereas before it took three months or longer.

Barron said to be eligible applicants must apply their interest form for the program by Dec. 1, work with the team to finish the requirements to receive all the funding by Jan. 1, 2022.

“I would suggest that if someone misses that deadline, we are in conversations with all of these different stakeholders, and this opportunity will exist in 2022,” she said. “They should still go to our website and fill out the interest form because we are compiling a wait list so when we move into the next phase of the program delivery, we will contact those people in the queue.”

To learn more, find out if you are eligible and submit the interest form visit, call 619-426-3595 or email

MAAC is the leading provider of comprehensive social services in San Diego County and provides life-changing services to over 75,000 individuals every year. It creates healthier and stronger communities by providing a space where individuals and families can find means to self-sufficiency, through advocacy. For more information, visit

Program offers electric vehicles for low-income families

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Source: East County Californian

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