New Program Helps Lower Income Californians Buy Clean Cars

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has launched a new state grant and loan program to help lower-income Californians get into the cleanest new and used cars on the market.

The Clean Vehicle Assistance Program, run by the Oakland-based nonprofit Beneficial State Foundation, was founded with a $5 million CARB grant. The funding is from California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment, particularly in low-income and disadvantaged communities, according to CARB. “This program makes the cleanest cars more affordable for families and individuals with limited means and helps fulfill the promise that all Californians will benefit from the state’s efforts to fight climate change,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols.

The statewide Clean Vehicle Assistance Program provides personal grants of up to $5,000, and financial education services, to help lower-income Californians purchase a used or new conventional hybrid, plug-in hybrid or battery-electric car. Qualified applicants also can receive low-interest-rate loans (at an interest rate of 8 percent or less) through the program’s preferred lending partner, Beneficial State Bank. Designed for California’s low-income and disadvantaged communities, the program is open to all California residents who meet the income eligibility requirements.

“Low-income people of color are hit hardest by poverty and pollution. Efforts like the Clean Vehicle Assistance Program ensure our neediest communities won’t be left behind in the EV revolution and can have cleaner, healthier air,” said Orson Aguilar, president of the Greenlining Institute.

The program has been up and running since June. To date, Beneficial State Foundation has received more than 900 applications and awarded 24 grants for cars ranging from a 2018 Nissan Leaf to a 2014 Kia Optima Hybrid.

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