Our COVID-19 Response

Dear Way to Go Partners & Referring Agents:

On behalf of the Way to Go Board of Directors and myself, we hope this message finds you and yours healthy and mostly at home during this novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Similar to the agency or organization that you represent, Way to Go is also rapidly trying to adapt to handle the impacts of this virus – particularly on our community’s economy, healthcare system, and workforce. Like many of us, our clients are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and confused on how to grapple with the impacts this virus is ravaging on their household – including financially, physically, socially, and emotionally. Certainly, there are no simple answers behind this pandemic, and there will be no simple solutions. Given this, Way to Go is actively monitoring developments related to the virus, potential impacts on low-income and ALICE workers, and engaging with our donors and funding agencies.

Transportation will continue to play a key role throughout this crisis and remains a critical service for accessing basic needs such as groceries and prescriptions, as well as maintaining employment for those workers unaffected by the COVID-19 outbreak. However, a significant portion of our eligible client population is likely to have their work hours severely reduced, positions terminated, or furloughed due the COVID-19 outbreak. Under the current Way to Go client employment requirement, individuals who are unemployed or working less than 20 hours per week are ineligible for transportation services. Therefore, in order to continue meeting the transportation needs of low-income and ALICE workers, and realizing the critical role transportation access will play once these individuals can return to the workforce, the Way to Go Board of Directors has developed the following temporary adjustments to our Client Eligibility Requirements.

Additionally, changes to program and service offerings are outlined further below. These temporary adjustments will go into effect immediately. The Way to Go Board of Directors will reassess these temporary adjustments after the COVID-19 crisis has passed. The items listed in bold within the “Client Eligibility Requirements” section immediately below signify the temporary adjustments, while the other requirements reflect our standard policies that remain in effect. All of the Client Eligibility Requirements outlined below must be met in order for clients to be considered for our services.

1. Continue serving only residents of the City of Harrisonburg or Rockingham County.
2. Clients must meet one of the following:
a) Currently employed (either actively working, on paid sick leave, or furloughed); or
b) Possesses a demonstrated, strong work history AND was employed for at least 20 hours per week at some point during the month of March 2020.
3. At the beginning of March 2020, household income was below 300% of the Federal Poverty Level.
4. Clients are eligible for up to three (3) separate referrals for assistance per calendar year, and eligible for no more than (5) referrals overall lifetime. If you are unsure whether the client you are referring has already met their service limits, please contact our office.
5. Maintain that clients requesting transportation services must be formally referred by a representative from a local agency or community organization (e.g., social worker, case manager, or similar) that is most familiar with the client and his/her household.

Referring agents can access the Agency Referral Application from our website by following this link:http://w2ginc.org/services/. Please note that we have recently added a Screening Tool to the standard Agency Referral From to help ensure that the client being referred is meeting the temporary, adjusted eligibility requirements before continuing with the referral process. As conducted in the past, referring agents will remain the decision-maker regarding whether a client is referred to Way to Go for transportation services. This should be based upon whether the referring agent believes that their client is a good candidate based on the client’s employment history, household need, and compliance with the referring agency’s programs and/or policies. Way to Go is interested in empowering those workers in our community who are truly making all efforts to move forward with their lives.

All of the transportation services listed below are contingent upon available funding. Way to Go reserves the right to deny a client for services, even after receipt of agency referral, based upon: available funding; overall vehicle condition (e.g., vehicle repair costs exceed the current value of the car based upon vehicle repair expert’s assessment); status of auto loan (e.g., significantly past due on loan and nearing repossession); or exceeded client services limits (see #4 above).

1. Vehicle Acquisition programs placed on hold.
a) WorkCars Program: Way to Go’s vehicle finance program, powered in partnership with Farmers & Merchants (F&M) Bank, will not accept new applications for the remainder of the state’s fiscal year ending June 30, 2020. After this date, we will reassess this policy. It is irresponsible to saddle our clients with a new auto loan during such uncertainty in the economy and workforce.
b) Donated Vehicle Program: Way to Go will not accept new applications for this program at this immediate time. In order to award vehicles that have been donated in-kind to Way to Go, we require that the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) be fully-operational. Currently, all DMV customer service centers across Virginia are closed until at least April 2, 2020. Way to Go is, however, currently accepting donations of used vehicles. Follow this link to learn about the simple, vehicle donation process.

2. Vehicle Insurance
: will be considered for any client referred. This remains one of our largest priority services given that DMV can impose stiff penalties for non-compliance with insurance requirements. If liability insurance coverage on a vehicle cancels during the registration period, DMV can suspend the registrant’s driver’s license, require them to pay an uninsured motor vehicle fee or non-compliance fee ($500-$600) in addition to a driver’s license reinstatement fee and re-registration (up to an additional $145), and filing proof of insurance and financial responsibility from (SR-22) for three years.

3. Gas Cards: will be considered for any client referred. Priority will be given to those clients who are actively commuting to work and are eligible to work under Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s Executive Order Fifty-Three (effective at 11:59pm on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 – 11:59pm on Thursday, April 23, 2020) and any future executive orders. Additionally, gas cards will be considered for individuals with reduced work hours or who are currently unemployed, but meeting Way to Go’s temporary, adjusted client eligibility requirements. Clients should use these gas cards exclusively for commuting to work, and accessing childcare, groceries and/or prescriptions. Per Governor Northam’s executive order, Way to Go urges all Harrisonburg-Rockingham residents to avoid non-essential travel outside the home.

4. Vehicle Repairs: will be considered for any client referred. Per Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s Executive Order Fifty-Three, “automotive parts, accessories, and tire retailers as well as automotive repair facilities” are considered essential retail businesses and may remain open during normal business hours. It should be noted that Way to Go reserves the right to only address the most critical repair needs in order to maintain safe and optimal function of the vehicle, and may elect to not repair the vehicle if the vehicle repair expert determines the cost of needed repairs exceeds the vehicle’s current value. Additionally, Way to Go will only service client vehicles that have current registration and insurance coverage. As in the past, Way to Go will not repair engines, transmissions, air conditioners, or other items not required to pass State Inspection standards.

5. Vehicle Payments: will be considered for any client referred. Way to Go urges clients to first contact their auto lender to determine solutions that could ease their financial distress, perhaps including payment deferrals at no-cost (e.g., no late fees and/or additional accrued interest). Should this not be a viable option, Way to Go will consider, on a case-by-case basis, making a monthly vehicle payment on behalf of the client. Way to Go reserves the right to refuse such payments if the client is significantly past due on their loan and nearing repossession, if the vehicle is in poor mechanical condition, or if the vehicle is not properly registered and insured.

6. Work Shuttles: will only be considered for those clients who are actively commuting to work and are eligible to work under Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s Executive Order Fifty-Three (effective at 11:59pm on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 – 11:59pm on Thursday, April 23, 2020) and any future executive orders. Additionally, shuttles can be considered for those clients who are not actively working, but are meeting all temporary client eligibility requirements; however, these shuttles will be limited only to and from the client’s home and vehicle repair garage.

7. Driving Lessons: will not be approved at this time per Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s Executive Order Fifty-Three (effective at 11:59pm on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 – 11:59pm on Thursday, April 23, 2020). This applies to any future executive orders that classify Driving Schools as non-essential businesses, as these establishments will remain closed. However, on-line driver improvement courses may be considered for payment/reimbursement.  

Should you have any questions regarding these temporary, adjusted eligibility requirements or program/service changes, please contact the Way to Go office at (540) 705-6201 or ben@w2ginc.org. Way to Go staff is working remotely during normal business hours. Our physical office space remains closed at this time.  

Take care,

Ben Craig
Executive Director