WORCESTER, Mass. — Across the country, car lots are sitting empty; supply chain and chip shortages are creating a backlog of production of both new and used vehicles like this country has never seen before.
But for low-income Americans who could barely afford to buy a car before the pandemic, getting around is now more challenged than ever.
“It’s depressing. I just feel powerless, like nobody,” 61-year-old Adaline Toney said while sitting inside her Worcester, Massachusetts apartment.
A proud grandmother and great grandmother, Toney has been plagued by back issues for decades. Barely able to walk means just getting around the city she lives in is hard, even with public transportation.
“I don’t get to go when I need it. I get to go when it’s arranged,” she said.
But a few weeks ago, Toney was given her freedom back, thanks to a donation from a New England nonprofit called the Good News Garage. They give cars to low-income Americans, who can’t otherwise afford transportation.
After identifying Toney as a candidate, the nonprofit was able to fix up a donated 2007 Toyota Matrix.
It’s been life-altering.
“I’m experiencing emotions that I can’t even identify, but they’re all happy. I haven’t been happy in a very long time,” the 61-year-old said.
Unfortunately, though, there is a problem. A chip shortage and supply chain issues mean Americans are buying fewer new cars and holding onto their used cars longer—all of which is translating into a 30% drop in donations to nonprofits like Good News Garage.
“It’s definitely impacting us big time,” said Cash Cranson with the organization.
The car shortage is only creating another barrier for the countless low-income Americans, who need reliable transportation just to get a job.
“If you’re not in an urban area that has good public transit it’s really tough to get ahead in life,” Cranson added.
Not all hope is lost though.
While donations are lagging, people like Adaline Toney are still benefiting from the donations coming in. With her new car, Toney now feels a new sense of freedom and is planning on finally finding a full-time job in human services, something she hasn’t been able to do in decades.
“I’m free now.”