GET THE FACTS
Curious to learn more about the "why" behind the important work being done at Vehicles for Change? Check out the latest facts and studies below.
The Need for Transportation
- Prosperity in America is still tied to car ownership. A recent study argues that "universal car access" could lift more Americans out of poverty.
- A new study in the Journal of Planning Education and Research shows that, over the past 50 years, owning a car has been among the most powerful economic advantages a U.S. family can have.
- In a large, continuing study of upward mobility based at Harvard, commuting time has emerged as the single strongest factor in the odds of escaping poverty. The longer an average commute in a given county, the worse the chances of low-income families there moving up the ladder.
- The Baltimore and Washington, D.C. metropolitan areas rank in the top eight longest average commutes in the United States.
- The typical metropolitan household without a vehicle can reach only reach approximately 40% of metro-wide jobs via transit within 90 minutes.
- According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation documentary Pursuit of the Dream: Cars & Jobs in America, 88% of Americans drive their cars to work.
- However, car ownership for low-income families is much more costly than for those in middle or high-income brackets. The Federal Reserve reports that those earning $30,000 or less annually pay interest rates 56.1% higher than those earning $90,000.
- The national rate of recidivism is more than 83%, according to the most recent Bureau of Justice study.
- The recidivism rate in Maryland is roughly 40%
- The average cost of incarceration in Maryland $46,000 per person annually according to The Baltimore Sun.
- In Michigan, the average incarceration cost per individual is $36,106 as of 2017, as reported by Detroit Free Press.
Transportation, job access, and income go hand-in-hand. In order for families to gain employment, arrive at work on time, and be available for extra shifts (which translates into greater income), they need reliable transportation that provides access to suitable jobs.
Unfortunately, many families in low-income neighborhoods are at a disadvantage because public transit allows them to reach only a fraction of the jobs for which they qualify. Here’s a look at how this plays out in some of the areas that Vehicles For Change serves*:
In the Baltimore metro area, there are more than 80,000 low-income families without a car.
|D.C. Metro Area
In the D.C. Metro Area, there are more than 133,500 low-income families without a car.
For most of us, cars remain both the fastest and most reliable way to get around. Unfortunately, families that are unable to access suitable jobs via public transportation are also unable to purchase a car on their own. Car-assistance programs such as Vehicles for Change are crucial to helping low-income families achieve financial independence.
*Source: The Brookings Institute “Missed Opportunity: Transit and Jobs in Metro.”
Vehicles for Change's Car Ownership Case Study
For many families, car ownership impacts more than their finances. With a car, parents are able to take their children to school, day care, and doctor’s appointments. Their children have the opportunity to participate in tutoring, athletics and after-school events – all activities that are difficult to reach without a car. A 2011 survey of VFC recipients, who had their car for at least 12 months, revealed:
- 100 percent are taking their children to after-school activities
- 87 percent are taking their children to athletic activities
- 81 percent are taking their children to art- and music-related opportunities
- 75 percent are taking their children to daycare
Car ownership also helps families take better care of their health. Without a car, many families are unable to access primary care physicians or urgent care centers, so they rely on emergency medical transportation and emergency rooms for simple illnesses. Routine procedures such as checkups and immunizations are more attainable when families own a vehicle.