MAG Helping Older, Low-Income Arizonans Access Transportation In Rural Areas

Published: Monday, May 6, 2019 - 8:22am

Work is getting underway to help older, low-income adults get around in rural Arizona.

The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) is launching a Rural Transportation Incubator.

Amy St. Peter, deputy executive director for MAG, said two to four communities will be chosen to develop or expand transportation services for people who meet age and income guidelines.

“Older adults are a very important asset in our community,” she said. “They’re the workforce, they’re the volunteers, they’re the mentors, they’re the tutors, they’re the family we rely on. And if older adults literally become prisoners in their own homes because they don’t have transportation then really the entire community

St. Peter said the work will be based on two successful models: Freedom Express in Wickenburg and Verde Valley Caregivers in northern Arizona.

“Both of them are providing rides today and they’re doing amazing work because of the coalition of volunteers, the expertise that they’ve accrued throughout their own experience,” she said. “We want to be able to replicate that, adapt that in additional communities.”

In rural Arizona, MAG says 29,309 people 65 and older have incomes below 150 percent of the federal poverty level, which is the economic target for the program. A single-person household with an annual income of $18,735 equals 150 percent of the federal poverty guidelines

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation will provide $300,000 in funding for the Rural Transportation Incubator while a variety of nonprofits and government entities from across Arizona are contributing the remainder in grants and staffing assistance.

In a prepared statement, Earl Millett with the Weinberg Foundation said, “We are thrilled to find committed partners working hard to make sure every older adult has access to the services needed to continue to live healthy and happy lives in their community. Not only will this project work to find sustainable solutions to rural transportation in Arizona, but it will also collaborate and share with rural communities throughout the country.”

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