Workshop helps car buyers

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Workshop helps car buyers

Denis Perez / The Advocate

Denis Perez / The Advocate

Denis Perez / The Advocate

By Jessica Suico, Assistant News Editor

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SparkPoint hosted a “Buy A Car…Smartly” workshop on Feb. 15 that provided resources, information and tips on ways to secure a good loan toward purchasing an affordable car.

The workshop, which was held in SA-227 from 1-2 p.m., focuses on how to buy a car, how to improve bad credit and offer techniques on how build a credit profile without previous credit history.

“The main purpose of the workshop is to empower students to lease versus purchasing a car. It’s also to give them knowledge about down payments and how they can get assistance on paying them,” Community Housing Development Loan Coordinator Manuela Zacarias said. “We also want to inform students about the resources and how to reach them.”

SparkPoint has been organizing weekly workshops since Jan. 29 about properly budgeting financial aid disbursements, how to pay bills and to buy books and supplies while extending limited finances throughout the semester.

“There were prizes given out at this workshop, which makes it more exciting and interesting for attendees,” SparkPoint Coordinator Bill Bankhead said.

“Our main sponsor is the Community Housing Development Corporation (CHDC). They are also a program that have a lot of resources for people about budgeting money,” he said.

SparkPoint workshops are intended to inform people about resources and to introduce them to programs that can help with money management, loans and transforming small business into larger ones, he said.

“CHDC is a non-profit organization that has been serving the community for over 25 years,” Zacarias said. “We provide counselors and help with home ownership.”

These workshops are held once a semester.

There are two main elements that will be addressed at this workshop, he said. The first will be direct auto loans for low to moderate income households, people with challenged credit and people with no credit at all.

Attendees will have the opportunity to apply for loans with an 8 percent interest rate to purchase a reliable car or a chance to qualify for a loan of up to $8,000.

The second element to be discussed is a program, funded by state grants, that helps people buy hybrid and electric cars, some which offer qualified buyers a $5,000 rebate.

There are requirements to get these loans and rebates. Applicants must be employed for at least six months and there is an income cap that allows low-income workers a fair shot at car ownership.

“We have been a part of these workshops at CCC with SparkPoint for the last four semesters. Our main goal is to give resources to the community,” Zacarias said. “We have a program to help clients acquire loans and down payments, which leads to empowerment.”

Undecided major Julian Mayodong said, “I am very interested in going to this workshop. I need to learn all about money management.”

Having these workshops are helpful to students on campus because a lot of people are always over-spending and we aren’t taught the basics about buying cars or home ownership, she said.

Bankhead said the ideas for the topics of these workshops come from students. SparkPoint gives out surveys for students to fill out. It also allows them to list check specific topics they would like the workshops to focus on.

To for more information about future Sparkpoint workshops, students need to contact Bankhead at bbankhead@contracosta.edu or go to the SparkPoint Office in SA-227 in the Career/Transfer Center.

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