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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Can Transportation Strategies Help Meet the Welfare Challenge?


In 1995 nearly fourteen million Americans received welfare benefits, far too many in the eyes of the many critics of the program. Developed originally to allow widowed or divorced women to stay at home with their children, the 1996 federal welfare reform package aimed to do just the opposite. The many changes, including time limits for receiving benefits, seek to move recipients out of the home and into wage work. While inadequate access to employment clearly contributes to unstable work histories, poverty, and dependency on programs like Aid to Families with Dependent Children, it is by no means the only barrier to steady work for most welfare recipients. So while programs that seek to increase employment access -- either by locating jobs and workers near one another or by improving the transportation linkages between jobs and workers -- can help to move people into steady employment and reduce welfare usage, such programs are not a panacea.

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