DelBene presents $250K to Homage Transportation Assistance Program aimed at helping county’s seniors

L-R: TAP passenger Char McCain, Homage CEO Keith Bell, 1st District Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, Homage Senior Director of Government-funded Programs Juli Rose and Dispatch Schedule/Backup Driver Jami Currie.

Congresswoman Suzan DelBene delivered a $250,000 ceremonial check Monday for Homage’s new Transportation Assistance Program, which is designed to improve transit for Snohomish County’s seniors and those with disabilities.

DelBene, the representative for Washington’s 1st Congressional District, visited Lynnwood-based Homage to present the check to Homage CEO Keith Bell. With Bell were Homage’s senior director of government-funded programs, Juli Rose; Vehicle Service Supervisor Lloyd White and Char McCain, a senior who benefits from the program, also known as TAP.

Congresswoman Suzan DelBene and Homage CEO Keith Bell listen as Homage’s senior director of government-funded programs, Juli Rose (off camera), provides statistics for TAP’s first 18 days servicing rural Snohomish County.

“We are immensely grateful to Congresswoman DelBene for securing these much-needed funds, which have already made a tremendous impact in the lives of seniors, people with disabilities, and low-income residents,” Bell said.

TAP supports seniors and people with disabilities throughout Snohomish County by providing access to crucial services such as health care and shopping, as well as rides to senior centers for activities. According to Bell, the program provided 98 rides and covered over 2,000 miles in the first 18 days of service.

Of those trips, 36 were medical visits, six were for shopping, and 41 were for work. Fifteen people were labeled “other,” denoting trips to senior social centers or outings such as the park.

“Seniors make important contributions to our community, and it’s our duty to ensure they have the resources they need,” DelBene said.

Char McCain and Congresswoman Suzan DelBene listen to Lloyd White, safety and vehicle service supervisor for Homage, explain features that will be improved on the new vehicles, such as the steps for the side door.

The grant allows TAP to expand its vehicle fleet, including operational costs such as gas, insurance and maintenance.

TAP received the funding as part of the $19.4 million that DelBene secured in the 2023 Federal Funding Package for 15 community projects that included road improvements, expanded mental health facilities and senior services, of which $7.9 million was dedicated to Snohomish County.

With the program’s popularity in its first two-and-a-half weeks, White – Homage’s vehicle services supervisor — saw a need for a fuel-efficient vehicle that could service more rural areas of Snohomish County and be time-efficient for passengers.

TAP will be able to better service passengers along U.S. Highway 2 from Snohomish to Index and state Route 522 from Monroe to Bothell. When considering what type of vehicle would work best in those two main corridors, White cited the ability to navigate the terrain year-round and the possible grades of roads and driveways.

Lloyd White, vehicle service supervisor for Homage, explains that the new vans will have an upgraded wheelchair security system, making entry and exit fast and easy for passengers.

“We went out and inspected the areas we serve to answer questions like, ‘Will we need a four-wheel drive or how much clearance will we need?’” White said.

According to White, the new vans have a versatile platform and seat 10: two passengers in wheelchairs and eight on drop-down seating with safety belts. The vans will feature a safe and more efficient method of securing wheelchairs in the vans, resulting in faster entry and exit compared to their current fleet.

To apply for TAP, click here.

— Story and photos by Rick Sinnett

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