Don't Ask Poor to Bear Cost of Smart Growth Goals

The U.S. settlement system has created a powerful link between access and opportunity: research demonstrates that commuting by car significantly increases the employment and earnings of working families. The suburbanization of employment, the presence of
October 12, 2005, 6am PDT | mahughes
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"There is reason to believe that not having a car isn't just a consequence of povertyâ€"it's a barrier to escaping it. A significant body of research shows that low-income people with cars work at higher rates, and earn more, than those without."

"The lack of a car limits opportunities for America's poor in other ways too. It's never easy to be a working single parent, but it's infinitely harder without a car. When you spend three hours a day commuting to work by bus and train, then have to buy groceries and pick up your kids, there isn't much time for anything elseâ€"like helping with homework or after-school activities, taking yourself or your family to the doctor when necessary, or even finding a partner to help share the load. And lack of access to a car limits your housing options, making it even harder to move into safer neighborhoods, or ones with better schools."

"The idea that driving a car is a lifestyle decision has long since become outmoded. To be a fully functioning citizen in this country today, a car is a virtual necessity, and any American willing to work ought to be able to afford one. We use the tax code to subsidize most other work expenses. It's time we did the same for the most common and unavoidable of them all."

Thanks to Mark Alan Hughes

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Published on Tuesday, October 11, 2005 in The Washington Monthly
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