Affordable Car Ownership Programs

Transporting Families Toward Financial Stability and Success

By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

January 1, 2007


In today's world, it's nearly impossible to support a family without having reliable transportation. This is particularly true in rural areas, where families need to commute for work, but also access to necessities such as groceries and medical care. Too often, low-income families have limited or no options for acquiring a reliable vehicle through conventional loans and methods, and resort to predatory lenders. These transactions subject low-income car buyers to high prices, high interest rates and ultimately, a situation that puts them further in the hole. 

To help, nearly 160 programs have emerged across the nation to help secure reliable vehicles and prices and interest rates low-income families are able to afford. There are different types of programs across the country, but they are all collaborating to share ideas and practices, all while striving to generate more public awareness to spur supportive public policy. Other publications on this topic include On the Road and Shifting into Gear

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Key Takeaway

Low-income families face many challenges when they don't have reliable transportation

About 40% of rural counties have no public transit service. Even in urban areas, having a family typically necessitates having reliable transportation. 25% of families earning $25,000 or less don’t have a car. These families often do not qualify for conventional loans and are forced to turn toward predatory lenders. 

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