To Cut Down Poverty, Cut Down the Cost of Living

Originally posted to on August 4, 2016 by Laura Bliss.

A basic principle of finance could yield big wins for U.S. cities, according to a new policy agenda.

Proportionally speaking, Americans living in poverty pay more for basic necessities. On energy bills, the poorest 20 percent of Americans spend more than seven times the share of their income than do the wealthiest. Dividing American incomes into three, households in the bottom third spend twice the portion of their incomes on transportation than the top third. High housing costs are hurting everyone—but they’re hurting poor Americans the most.

The CNT breaks their blueprint for Philly into a number of broad actions. Transportation costs are the third-biggest income-eater for low-income Americans, after housing and food. For Philadelphia, the biggest-ticket poverty-reduction item is expanding transportation access, with goals to reduce the need for workers at every income tier to drive alone, and to open up jobs previously too hard to get to. Relying on the CNT’s Housing and Transportation Affordability Index, the CNT estimates that if Philadelphia grew the number of jobs accessible by a 30-minute transit ride by 12 percent, that could translate into roughly 4,700 newly accessible jobs for people living in poverty.

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