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Helping Low-Income Families

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White House at Work

February 23, 2000

"If you want more people to work, you've got to help them get to work. The first step is to eliminate the roadblocks that keep them from getting or keeping a car."

President Bill Clinton
Wednesday, February 23, 2000

Today, at the White House, President Clinton unveiled a new regulation and highlighted several new budget initiatives to help low-income families get to work by making it easier for them to own a car or obtain public transportation. These steps are a key part of the Administration's strategy to reform welfare, reward work, and help hard-pressed working families.

Families Need Transportation to Go to Work. Low-income families cannot participate fully in our economy unless they can get to work. Two-thirds of all new jobs are created in suburbs, but three-fourths of welfare recipients live in rural or urban areas. Public transit often fails to link to suburban job opportunities, even in areas with extensive transit systems. Studies show that having a car can make a tremendous difference for welfare receipients and low-income families in getting a job.

Helping More Families Get to the Job. The Clinton-Gore Administration is putting more families on the road to work and opportunity by:

  • Making it Easier for Working Families to Own a Car without Losing Food Stamps. Current law forces many working families to choose between nutritional assistance and a reliable car because it limits food stamp eligibility to most families owning a vehicle worth less than $4,650. The President's new regulation will enable families with low amounts of equity in their cars to qualify for food stamps. In addition, the President's new budget proposal, which he called on Congress to pass, would allow states to use the higher vehicle asset limits of their welfare reform programs, enabling more families to own a car without losing food stamps. Together, the regulation and the budget proposal will make it easier for an estimated 400,000 individuals by 2005 to get to work.

  • Doubling “Access to Jobs” Grants. These grants fund locally designed transportation projects that help hard-pressed families get to work, such as extending public transit hours and routes or funding van services. Under this $150 million proposal for FY 2001, the Department of Transportation will also set aside $5 million for Indian tribes, and designate another $5 million for applicants from the Mississippi Delta region.

  • Allowing Working Families to use Individual Development Accounts to Save for a Car. IDAs currently provide incentives for low-income working families to save for a first home, post-secondary education, or start a new business. This budget initiative will allow them to use IDAs to save for a car that will help them get or keep a job.

A Record of Rewarding Work and Helping Hard-Pressed Working Families. President Clinton and Vice President Gore have worked for seven years to raise incomes, make work pay, help families make a successful transition from welfare to work, and extend opportunity to all. Today's proposals are part of a comprehensive package in the Administration's FY 2001 budget to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, health coverage, and child care; provide more housing vouchers; help low-income working families upgrade their skills and get the critical work supports they need; promote responsible fatherhood by helping low-income fathers work and support their children; and enact tough new measures to collect more child support from those who can afford to pay.

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