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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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  • Individual Author: Blagg, Kristin; Chingos, Matthew; Corcoran, Sean P.; Cordes, Sarah A.; Cowen, Joshua; Denice, Patrick ; Gross, Betheny; Lincove, Jane Arnold ; Sattin-Bajaj, Carolyn; Schwartz, Amy Ellen; Valant, Jon
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2018

    How to get to school is an important issue for families who want to send their children to schools outside their neighborhood and for education policymakers seeking to implement school choice policies that mitigate educational inequality. We analyze travel times between the homes and schools of nearly 190,000 students across five large US cities that offer a significant amount of educational choice:  Denver, Detroit, New Orleans, New York City, and Washington, DC. We find: 

    • Despite wide variation across cities in student transportation policy, there are similar student transportation patterns across our cities. Most students live within a 20-minute drive from home to their school. Older students travel farther to school than younger students, and black students travel farther than white or Hispanic students. Students who are not low income tend to travel farther than their low-income peers.
    • Particularly among older students, those enrolled in traditional public schools tend to travel as far, or in some cases farther, than those attending charter schools....

    How to get to school is an important issue for families who want to send their children to schools outside their neighborhood and for education policymakers seeking to implement school choice policies that mitigate educational inequality. We analyze travel times between the homes and schools of nearly 190,000 students across five large US cities that offer a significant amount of educational choice:  Denver, Detroit, New Orleans, New York City, and Washington, DC. We find: 

    • Despite wide variation across cities in student transportation policy, there are similar student transportation patterns across our cities. Most students live within a 20-minute drive from home to their school. Older students travel farther to school than younger students, and black students travel farther than white or Hispanic students. Students who are not low income tend to travel farther than their low-income peers.
    • Particularly among older students, those enrolled in traditional public schools tend to travel as far, or in some cases farther, than those attending charter schools.
    • Access to “high quality” high schools varies across cities, race and ethnicity, and on the quality measure used. However, ninth-grade students, on average, tend to live about a 10-minute drive from a “high quality” high school.
    • Access to a car can significantly increase the number of schools available to a family. Typical travel times to school by public transit are significantly greater than by car, especially in cities with less efficient transit networks.

    Just as there are inequalities and differences in students’ academic performance across these cities, we see parallel inequalities and differences in the distances that students travel and in the availability of nearby school options. Experiments in targeted policy interventions, such as implementing transportation vouchers for low-income parents of very young students, using yellow buses on circulating routes, or changing the way that school siting decisions are made, might yield pragmatic solutions that further level the playing field for a city’s most disadvantaged students. (Author abstract) 

  • Individual Author: Salisbury, Sarah
    Reference Type: Conference Paper
    Year: 2017

    This PowerPoint presentation from the 2017 NAWRS workshop summarizes the important role that transportation plays, the goals of achieving full community integration, and the challenges with transportation in the current environment.

    This PowerPoint presentation from the 2017 NAWRS workshop summarizes the important role that transportation plays, the goals of achieving full community integration, and the challenges with transportation in the current environment.

  • Individual Author: Blumenberg, Evelyn; Pierce, Gregory; Smart, Michael
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2015

    Access to automobiles may be particularly important to housing voucher recipients, who are more likely than residents of public housing to live in suburban neighborhoods where transit service is often limited. Access to high-quality public transit is more likely to benefit low-income households who live in dense central-city neighborhoods in close proximity to employment. In this analysis we draw on survey data from two housing voucher experiments—the Moving to Opportunity for Fair Housing and Welfare-to-Work Voucher programs—to examine the relationship between access to automobiles and public transit and the employment and earnings outcomes of program participants.

    Our research underscores the importance of automobiles in achieving desirable outcomes for families who receive subsidized housing. Access to automobiles is associated with improved economic outcomes for all program participants and better facilitates job acquisition, job retention, and earnings than public transit. Our findings suggest the need to better link housing and transportation programs and to pursue a...

    Access to automobiles may be particularly important to housing voucher recipients, who are more likely than residents of public housing to live in suburban neighborhoods where transit service is often limited. Access to high-quality public transit is more likely to benefit low-income households who live in dense central-city neighborhoods in close proximity to employment. In this analysis we draw on survey data from two housing voucher experiments—the Moving to Opportunity for Fair Housing and Welfare-to-Work Voucher programs—to examine the relationship between access to automobiles and public transit and the employment and earnings outcomes of program participants.

    Our research underscores the importance of automobiles in achieving desirable outcomes for families who receive subsidized housing. Access to automobiles is associated with improved economic outcomes for all program participants and better facilitates job acquisition, job retention, and earnings than public transit. Our findings suggest the need to better link housing and transportation programs and to pursue a set of policies that increase automobile access among all subsidized housing recipients. (Author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Perrotta, Alexis Francesca
    Reference Type: Thesis
    Year: 2015

    This research asks how universality of ridership is maintained in New York City’s transit system given that it is gated by the fare. Transportation planning scholarship presumes transit is affordable because the fare has a relatively low price and ridership among the poor is high. The transit agency addresses universality by maintaining a fare structure that keeps the single ride fare relatively low. Its method is based on empirical evidence that low-income riders “prefer” cheaper fare products over those with lower average fares but that require higher initial cash outlays. Transportation scholarship observes that low-income riders are inelastic and presumes, based on economic theory, that riders will forego more elastic goods to ride transit. Critical planning scholars have contested the tenets of the modernist planning project which utilize predict-and-provide empiricism and neoclassical economic models such as these. While urban planning has turned toward direct collaboration or at least participation with affected communities, transportation planning has not fully made this...

    This research asks how universality of ridership is maintained in New York City’s transit system given that it is gated by the fare. Transportation planning scholarship presumes transit is affordable because the fare has a relatively low price and ridership among the poor is high. The transit agency addresses universality by maintaining a fare structure that keeps the single ride fare relatively low. Its method is based on empirical evidence that low-income riders “prefer” cheaper fare products over those with lower average fares but that require higher initial cash outlays. Transportation scholarship observes that low-income riders are inelastic and presumes, based on economic theory, that riders will forego more elastic goods to ride transit. Critical planning scholars have contested the tenets of the modernist planning project which utilize predict-and-provide empiricism and neoclassical economic models such as these. While urban planning has turned toward direct collaboration or at least participation with affected communities, transportation planning has not fully made this turn. There is thus little transit-related research that is informed directly by riders, especially low-income riders, suggesting the conventional approaches to understanding how riders afford the fare are incomplete. To fill this void, this research engages with low-income transit riders to elaborate and challenge the explanations for universality of ridership. It finds that although the fare price is low, it is not necessarily affordable. The “preference” for single ride fares is in most cases the result of constraints. Single fare rides are often combined with fare evasion and exploitation of free transfers, while unlimited fare cards are highly sought and widely shared. Low-income riders are more likely to undertake compensating behaviors than to forego goods. On the occasions when they do forego goods, they compromise necessities such as food, telephone service, rent and laundry. Finally, agents of the welfare state distribute fares to low-income individuals to promote rehabilitation and labor force attachment. Together these findings suggest that universality of ridership is tenuous. It depends on fragmented systems of generosity, compromise and welfare of which transit advocates and planners are largely unaware. Fare evasion enforcement, pricing structures and fare payment methods can pose challenges to riders who rely on these fragmented systems. By explicitly acknowledging transit affordability, and incorporating knowledge on the role that welfare plays in enabling low-income ridership, planners can expand access to transit for low-income riders. (Author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Blumenberg, Evelyn; Pierce, Gregory
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2014

    Problem, research strategy, and findings: We evaluate the role of transportation in improving the employment outcomes of participants in the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) for Fair Housing Voucher Program, a 10-year demonstration project designed to enable low-income families to improve their outcomes by moving out of high-poverty neighborhoods. We use longitudinal data from the MTO program to assess the role of transportation—automobiles and improved access to public transit—in moving to, and maintaining, employment. We use multi-nomial logistic regression to predict changes in employment status as a function of change in automobile availability and transit accessibility, controlling for other potential determinants of employment. We find that keeping or gaining access to an automobile is positively related to the likelihood of employment. Improved access to public transit is positively associated with maintaining employment, but not with job gains. Although we cannot say for certain whether car ownership preceded or followed employment, it is clear that having a car provides...

    Problem, research strategy, and findings: We evaluate the role of transportation in improving the employment outcomes of participants in the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) for Fair Housing Voucher Program, a 10-year demonstration project designed to enable low-income families to improve their outcomes by moving out of high-poverty neighborhoods. We use longitudinal data from the MTO program to assess the role of transportation—automobiles and improved access to public transit—in moving to, and maintaining, employment. We use multi-nomial logistic regression to predict changes in employment status as a function of change in automobile availability and transit accessibility, controlling for other potential determinants of employment. We find that keeping or gaining access to an automobile is positively related to the likelihood of employment. Improved access to public transit is positively associated with maintaining employment, but not with job gains. Although we cannot say for certain whether car ownership preceded or followed employment, it is clear that having a car provides multiple benefits that facilitate getting and keeping a job.

    Takeaway for practice: Policies to increase automobile access among low-income households—even in dense urban areas—will most clearly enhance job gain and job retention. While auto programs are unpopular with many planners, they would improve the lives of low-income families who currently have the least access to cars. In addition, supporting moves to transit-rich neighborhoods may help households maintain consistent employment. (Author abstract)

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