Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein and City Councilman Emmanuel Remy released recent data for Project Taillight, a public safety program that provides free auto repair services for lower-income residents.
In July, city council invested $175,000 in additional funding for Project Taillight to expand the program beyond safety lights to include a number of other repairs, including replacement windows and mirrors, brakes, tires, transmission and exhaust system fixes, and a number of other types of repairs. Since that expansion, more than 75 residents have received Project Taillight repair services. More than 80 percent of the individuals helped this year are single mothers. Since its creation in 2020, Project Taillight has helped more than 300 residents get needed repairs to keep those drivers safe on the road.
“Project Taillight is good government at its best, bringing the public and private sector together to address a need in our community, free up law enforcement to focus on more serious and violent crime, and make our roads and neighborhoods safer for all of us,” said Klein. “We haven’t yet unlocked the full potential of Project Taillight, and I’m happy to offer my support to continue building this innovative program that’s changing lives and improving public safety.”
Project Taillight was established in 2020 by the city of Columbus and Franklin County to provide certain cost-free auto repair services to lower income residents. Initially, vehicle repairs were performed by students enrolled in Columbus State Community College’s Automotive Technology program, but the program has since expanded to also include a number of auto repair shops located throughout the city.
“I am beyond ecstatic in what these numbers demonstrate,” said Remy. “Project Taillight is helping single mothers and families in our community take their kids to daycare, doctor appointments, and providing reliable transportation to get to their place of employment.”
Remy also said that he is hoping to secure additional funding in the city’s 2024 operating budget to continue to grow and expand Project Taillight.
Additionally, Remy announced that the city will begin recruiting local repair shop partners later this month. These approved vendors must meet certain criteria to participate in the program, including customer service training to better work with program participants, timely scheduling for repairs, separate systems for reporting invoices and auditing to protect taxpayer dollars, and training on Project Taillight operational practices.
To be eligible for participation in the Project Taillight program, individuals must be city of Columbus residents, have a valid driver’s license, hold the title to the vehicle, live in households at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, and drive a vehicle that is seven years old or older. Screening is conducted by the City Attorney’s Community Outreach Team, who then refers qualifying participants to one of the approved auto repair shops participating in the program.