A Drive Toward Social Inclusion

Last year two important developments took place in Oregon that favored low-income workers’ access to mobility, but they did not receive much media coverage.

First, automobiles were included in the transformative asset category of Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) to facilitate asset-building opportunities for low-income Oregonians.

Second, a car ownership program called Opportunity Cars was launched by the Partnership to End Poverty (formerly Central Oregon Partnership) to help low-income working parents find affordable and reliable cars in Crook County. This is the second low-income car ownership program in Oregon, the first being Metropolitan Family Service’s Ways to Work program in Portland.

Community First Bank and Albina Community Bank are partnering with Partnership to End Poverty and Metropolitan Family Service, respectively. They all value car ownership programs because they allow clients not only to purchase cars, but also to build positive credit histories.

This demonstrates that more Oregonians are realizing that, to include low-income people in the social and economic mainstream, we must ensure their access to a reliable means of getting to work, to the store, to school, etc. For most people, this means owning a car.

Sreya Sarkar is Director of the Wheels to Wealth Project at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market think tank.

© 2008, Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and Cascade Policy Institute are cited. Contact Cascade at (503) 242-0900 to arrange print or broadcast interviews on this topic. For more topics visit the QuickPoint! archive.

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