This editorial originally appeared in VC Star, on Aug 31, 2017,
“Car-sharing program offers a lift to Many Mansion residents in Thousand Oaks”
A car-sharing program launched Thursday at two of Many Mansions’ Thousand Oaks properties will allow residents to rent a vehicle for a small fee.
Maven, a car-sharing program created by General Motors, opened with a new Chevrolet Cruze at the shared parking lot at Many Mansions’ Esseff Village and Villa Garcia apartments at 1425 Thousand Oaks Blvd. Residents will be able to rent the vehicle for $8 an hour, gas and insurance included.
Thousand Oaks-based Many Mansions provides affordable-housing options to low-income residents throughout the county and worked with General Motors to implement Maven and provide residents with access to affordable and convenient transportation.
Many Mansions President Rick Schroeder said car-sharing services such as Maven are a natural fit for organizations like his. Although many of the properties’ residents can’t afford personal cars, they still need at least temporary access to vehicles for routine activities, Schroeder said.
“Most of our residents do not have a car and simply lack transportation but need it for shopping, doctor’s appointments,” Schroeder said. “But they only need cars periodically, a few hours a day throughout the week. This is a good way of giving them access to a car without bearing the expense of owning a car.”
Although General Motors hadn’t originally thought to bring the program to Thousand Oaks, a Many Mansions employee reached out to the vehicle manufacturer after realizing its potential to help lower-income communities, Schroeder added. Formal plans to introduce Maven to Many Mansions properties began in May. The organization hopes to expand the program by adding multiple vehicles and opening Maven to the wider Ventura County community if the pilot effort at Esseff Village and Villa Garcia is a success.
For Esseff Village resident Rhonda Sloane, whose personal vehicle has high mileage in addition to various mechanical issues, Maven is an appealing program due to its affordability and convenience.
“Sometimes my car isn’t working, and a lot of us residents will have to team up to get rides together,” said Sloan, 64. “Sometimes my son has to rent me a car, which is really expensive, so I’ve been looking for other alternatives. When we saw that (Maven) is $8 an hour and located here, that’s very convenient.”
Residents will be required to schedule appointments to use the Maven car via an Android or iOS application. Schroeder noted that although most of the properties’ residents have access to smartphones and could schedule their own appointments, Many Mansions would work to accommodate residents who lack access to the appropriate technology. Individuals looking to schedule appointments must pay for a minimum of one hour and can reserve the vehicle for up to 28 days.
A lack of affordable transportation made it difficult for Esseff Village resident Rosanna Allen to complete basic tasks such as grocery shopping, make it to medical appointments or participate in volunteer work. Maven’s low cost will make the program an invaluable tool, Allen said.
I don’t need a car full-time, and it would be a waste to shell out money for insurance, maintenance and gas, which just isn’t in my budget,” said Allen, 33. “I can’t go to the store very often. I probably make it to the grocery store a couple of times every month, and it gets very difficult scheduling doctor’s and vet appointments. Maven is definitely a more affordable option for me, and I estimate I’ll use it eight to 10 times a month.”
General Motors currently hosts the Maven program in 12 other cities throughout the nation, including Boston and Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. Many Mansions’ Maven program is the first time General Motors has brought the service to an affordable-housing community.
Beyond the general convenience a car-sharing program can bring to residents, Maven could be an important example of how constructing more affordable-housing communities wouldn’t necessarily create additional parking issues in the county, Schroeder said.
“You don’t need to build a big apartment building with lots and lots of parking,” Schroeder said. “Residents can use a car-share program to significantly reduce the amount of parking space needed.”