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.
Car ownership programs can open new employment opportunities for low-income people
Findings & Stats
Improved Quality of Life
Participants say they have experienced increased employment, improved health and overall improved sense of well-being as a result of the program.
TANF Investment Pays Off
One study found the amount paid per car by the state TANF agency was recouped within 5 months.
Car Ownership Improves Earning Potential
Car owners are more likely to work and car ownership increases earning potential, particularly for low-income workers.
The DOT estimates that more than 2/3 of new jobs created in the past 20 years were in suburbs with little to no service via public transit.
Statements & Quotations
Car ownership programs are unique in that they recognize that an individual’s transportationneeds are not limited to his or her ability to get to and from work, but include all the other traveleveryone does on a daily basis: taking children to school, participating in recreational activities,shopping, or making visits to the doctor.
The car ownership programs discussed in this report have been highly innovative in creatinginitiatives that respond to local needs while taking into account federal and state policies limitingthe use of TANF support services funds and other means-tested income support programs. Theyhave also built in program elements that reflect insurance industry functions and regulations.Some have found creative ways to work with transit agencies to get low-income people to work.In order for these programs to continue to work and to enable other communities to providesimilar assistance, federal, state and local agencies need to increase their investments intransportation for low-income people.
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