On the Road

Car Ownership as an Asset Building Strategy for Reducing Transportation Related Barriers to Work

Posted March 6, 2002
By the National Economic Development and Law Center
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Access to reliable transportation can make the difference between a low-income person getting and keeping a job or not. Public transportation can help, but is not a viable solution for all. A trend showing promise is the emergence of car ownership programs across the country that help low-income people acquire cars to help them get to work and improve their overall quality of life. This report examines a number of car ownership programs, highlighting best practices and needed improvements, suggests policy changes that better support mobility and job access, and proposes next steps for policymakers and private sector businesses. An updated report can be found with Shifting into Gear. 

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Key Takeaway

Car ownership programs can open new employment opportunities for low-income people

Transportation, or lack thereof, is a significant barrier to people seeking stable employment or better-paying jobs. An examination of existing U.S. car ownership programs shows promise in helping many of the working poor and welfare recipients access job opportunities and improve their overall quality of life. While gaps in these programs need to be filled, there are many best practice examples that can help guide future program developmet. Policymakers and private sector businesses also have a role to play in meeting the mobility needs of low-income workers and job seekers.