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State program spends $1 million to get 37 ‘disadvantaged’ people drivers licenses

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(The Center Square) – A program set up in King County through the state Department of Licensing and funded by the state Legislature has spent nearly $1 million teaching “disadvantaged” women to drive, with just 37 women actually obtaining their license in a five-month period.

King County contracts with Mujer al Volante, a nonprofit organization in Seattle that offers support services to refugee and immigrant women. In 2022, the Legislature gave DOL $350,000 to also contract with the nonprofit, with an additional $2 million appropriated earlier this year in the state transportation budget.

The Drivers License Assistance Program “Taking the Steering Wheel of My Life” provides qualifying applicants assistance toward obtaining a driver’s license. To qualify, a person must be a woman or “nonbinary,” an immigrant, asylee, or refugee, and be classified as “low-income.”

Since the program started in December, there have been 522 individuals who have gone through the program. However, just 37 of them have successfully passed the written and driving exams. In January, there were 101 participants and only one of them obtained their license. In April, there were 132 participants, 13 of which got their license.

When The Center Square reached out to DOL for comment, Communications Manager Christine Anthony wrote that “we contracted with Mujer al Volante in December of 2023, and this is the first report to the Legislature. This is a new program we are administering, and we will continue to work with the organization and monitor their progress.”

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