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The fallacy of "drive 'til you qualify" when considering affordable housing is underlined in the expanded Housing + Transportation Affordability Index, which was unveiled March 24 by the Center for Neighborhood Technology. The H+T Index website's companion document -- Penny Wise Pound Fuelish: New Measures Of Housing + Transportation Affordability -- has been added to Best Practices.

CNT is a partner with Reconnecting America and Strategic Economics in the Center for Transit-Oriented Development. CTOD was involved in the initial work to develop the index in cooperation with the Brookings Institution. (See this report.)

"A typical household’s transportation costs can range from 12% of household income in location efficient neighborhoods to more than 32% in inefficient locations. In some far exurbs, transportation can cost more than shelter," the authors of the report note.

The lower home price in outlying areas is only one part of the true cost. Ignoring the cost of traveling to jobs or shopping or just getting around hides the true cost for these homeowners and the nation.

"By factoring transportation into the housing affordability equation, the H+T Index reveals that the current pattern of sprawling development and lack of public transportation options is neither affordable for a large number of families nor environmentally sustainable," the report explains.

The report makes a number of recommendations

  • Policymakes should adopt a broader definition of affordability that encompasses transportation as well as housing and to disclose the average transportation costs associated with neighborhoods so consumers can make informed housing decisions.
  • Policies and investments should be screened for their potential impact on affordability under the H+T standard.
  • Public investments should be targeted to lower the sum of housing and transportation costs by creating more location efficient communities—through investment in transportation options, transit-oriented development, and the creation of more compact, walkable communities.



Penny Wise Pound Fuelish: New Measures Of Housing + Transportation Affordability

Is That House As Affordable As You Think?