The Lift Garage is a 501c3 nonprofit aimed to move people out of poverty and homelessness by providing low-cost car repair, free pre-purchase car inspections, and honest advice that supports our community on the road to more secure lives.
The Lift Garage is an affordable, non-profit auto repair service for Minnesotans of limited means. It’s a new idea that meets a pressing need.
Working with people experiencing homelessness, longtime social worker Cathy Heying repeatedly saw how devastating the prohibitive cost of commercial car repair could be. In a domino effect, people who couldn’t afford to get their cars fixed couldn’t get to work and so lost their jobs. Without jobs, they lacked the money to pay for housing and ended up in shelter.
It was also evident that many people who could not afford the cost of commercial car repair, felt that they equally could not afford to stop driving some very dangerous vehicles. Too often they spent a bleak Minnesota winter living in cars without brakes or heat.
Cathy went back to school to earn a degree in auto mechanics. In April 2013, with board members, donors, and volunteers to back her, The Lift opened for one day a week in its present location in south Minneapolis, famously “behind Dan’s Car Wash,” which continues to be a supportive, good neighbor. We have just celebrated our third anniversary and support from our community has made it possible for us to expand the services we provide. In addition to low cost car repair, we also offer free pre-purchase inspections of cars and free, regularly scheduled car-care classes.
Currently, The Lift has a full-time office staff of two, three full-time technicians, and a dedicated corps of fifteen volunteers. Our customers usually pay only on-third of market-rate car repair. To date, we have served over 660 customers, completed 1,300 repairs, and saved customers an estimated total of $475,000.
The Lift continues to grow steadily, and these numbers keep rising, but demand is so great that customers have to wait three months for an appointment.
Almost as important as car repair, Executive and Operations Director Cathy Heying says, is The Lift’s commitment to hospitality. The community of The Lift provides a protected space where people are listened to and treated with respect. We provide toys and books for their waiting children, and if they haven’t eaten, we provide snacks.
Auto repair at The Lift is the vehicle for repairing lives. We’re changing the world one old car at a time.