President Clinton Announces Transportation Grants to Help Low-Income Families
Today President Clinton will visit the Mi Casa Resource Center for Women in Denver, Colorado and announce $73 million in grants to help former welfare recipients and other low- income workers in 216 communities nation wide access transportation to their jobs. These Job Access grants support locally-designed new or expanded transportation services that connect individuals to jobs and employment-related services and are a critical step in the Clinton-Gore Administration’s long-standing commitment to reform welfare, promote work and responsibility, and make work pay for hard-pressed families. The President will also call on Congress to pass a budget that supports working families and reflects America’s priorities including increasing the minimum wage, providing targeted tax cuts, and promoting responsible fatherhood and increasing child support payments.
HELPING WORKING FAMILIES GET TO THEIR JOBS. Today the President will release $73million in Job Access and Reverse Commute grants for 216 communities in 39 states and the District of Columbia, including large cities, suburbs, and rural areas to help states and localities support new or expanded transportation services such as shuttles, van pools, new bus routes, connector services to mass transit, and guaranteed ride home programs to help former welfare recipients and other low-income workers (up to 150 percent of poverty) get to employment opportunities. Reverse Commute projects provide transportation services to suburban employment centers from urban, rural and other suburban locations for all populations. With the President’s leadership, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century authorized $750 million over five years for the Administration’s Job Access initiative and reverse commute grants. Already, these innovative projects are producing impressive results bringing hundreds of thousands of people to work, including access to 13,500 employers who were not previously reachable by public transit.
FAMILIES NEED TRANSPORTATION TO GO TO WORK. Low-income families cannot participate fully in our strong economy and support their children unless they can get to work. Two-thirds of all new jobs are now created in suburbs, but three-quarters of welfare recipients live in rural areas or central cities. While many states and communities are working to develop innovative transportation strategies, existing public transit often fails to link to suburban job opportunities, cover evening and weekend hours, or serve rural communities. Even in metropolitan areas with extensive transit systems, studies have shown that less than half the entry level jobs are accessible by transit. One national study found that twice as many welfare recipients with cars were working than those without cars, and 25 percent more low-income families with cars were working than those without cars.
The Administration has worked hard to put in place a comprehensive package of transportation initiatives to help low-income families get to work by improving public transit solutions through the Job Access initiative and making it easier for them to purchase a car. 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. President Clinton and Vice President Gore believe working parents shouldn’t be forced to make this choice. That’s why the President’s FY 2001 budget proposed allowing state food stamp programs to use the higher vehicle asset limits of their welfare reform programs. (In most states, the welfare reform rules on owning a car are more generous than the rules that apply to food stamps.) With strong bipartisan support, the Agriculture Appropriations conference committee approved this important initiative, which enables 245,000 people to own a reliable car and still be eligible for food stamp assistance.
CALLING ON CONGRESS TO ACT ON AMERICA’S PRIORITIES. As the Congress winds up its work this week, the President will urge support for America’s working families by helping people move from welfare to work. The President will call on Congress to raise the minimum wage by $1 over 2 years to help more than ten million workers and hard-pressed families make ends meet. He has also proposed a package of responsible targeted tax cuts that reward retirement savings, expand college opportunity, help families with the rising costs of long term care, expand and improve the child care tax credit, reward work and family by expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, and promote philanthropy for all Americans by encouraging charitable giving. The President will also urge Congress to work across party lines and chambers to enact legislation similar to his budget proposals that would help promote responsible fatherhood and increase the child support paid directly to families.
BUILDING ON A RECORD OF REWARDING WORK AND HELPING HARD-PRESSED WORKING FAMILIES. President Clinton and Vice President Gore have worked for nearly eight years to raise incomes, make work pay, help families make a successful transition from welfare to work, and extend opportunity to all. The welfare rolls have fallen by 56 percent since January 1993, with nearly three-quarters of this overall decline occurring since the President signed landmark welfare reform legislation in 1996. The combination of requirements, incentives and supports to promote work has not only resulted in more families leaving the welfare rolls the percentage of welfare recipients who are working has increased to nearly five times the level it was when the President took office. The Job Access grants announced today will help more hard-pressed working families get to work and support their families. They are part of a comprehensive package of initiatives this Administration has fought for including expanding the EITC, health coverage and child care, providing more housing vouchers, helping low-income workers upgrade their skills, promoting responsible fatherhood, and doubling child support collections.