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New Report Documents Rising H+T Costs Are Outpacing Family Income

The combined costs of housing and transportation in the nation's largest 25 metro areas have swelled by 44 percent since 2000 while incomes have failed to keep pace, according to a new report. "Losing Ground: The Struggle of Moderate-Income Households to Afford the Rising Costs of Housing and Transportation" details the challenges that American households face as the combined costs of housing and transportation consume an ever-larger share of household incomes.

The report, written by the Center for Housing Policy (the research affiliate of the National Housing Conference) and the Center for Neighborhood Technology, includes a special focus on moderate-income households, defined as those earning between 50 and 100 percent of the median household income in their area. In the 25 largest metro areas, the report finds that moderate-income households spend an average of 59 percent of their income on housing and transportation. The report finds cost burdens to be highest in the Miami area, where moderate-income households spend 72 percent of their income on housing and transportation. The next highest burdens are in the Riverside-San Bernardino, CA, rea (69 percent), the Tampa area (66 percent), and the Los Angeles area (65 percent).

"If we really want to understand whether housing is affordable, we need to consider housing and transportation costs together," explains Center for Housing Policy Executive Director Jeffrey Lubell. "Along with utilities, which we include within housing costs, these are the true 'costs of place,' and our report shows they have grown much faster than incomes since 2000."

The report finds that housing and transportations costs have increased 44 percent over this period while household incomes have risen only 25 percent. As a result, Americans are now substantially less able to afford their costs of place, undermining their ability to meet other critical household expenses, such as food, clothing, health insurance and child care. 

"Both housing and transportation costs need to be made more affordable," notes Center for Neighborhood Technology President and Co-Founder Scott Bernstein. "Letting the public know that the full cost of a location includes both housing and transportation is a first step; targeting resources that lower the cost of transportation, such as improved public transportation, to areas where it will help America's working families, is also essential."

Read the Executive Summary and download the full report.