Easing the Burden of High Gas and Housing Costs for Low-Income Households

Low-income families suffer most from dramatic spikes in housing and transportation costs, but governments can soften the impact through a series of actions.

Read Time: 1 minute

March 22, 2022, 5:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Gas Pump

Daniel Korzeniewski / Shutterstock

Low-income households will bear the brunt of inflation and the dramatic rise in the cost of rent and gas, writes Yonah Freemark of the Urban Institute. "Most low-income workers—like most Americans—commute by car, and though electric vehicles are gaining popularity, few Americans currently have them, and those who do are relatively wealthier on average (PDF)." When it comes to housing, "families under the federal poverty level are much more likely to rent their homes than own them, exposing them to fluctuations in housing costs as landlords raise rents."

Freemark describes several suggested short-term approaches that governments at all levels can take to address the needs of low-income families and ease the burdens of high housing and transportation costs:

Long-term tools, writes Freemark, could include more robust rent stabilization mechanisms, zoning reform that permits higher-density housing, investment in public transit, and making land use and transportation planning decisions that reduce the need to drive and provide safe, effective multimodal options.

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