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A tool for measuring true affordability of housing choices

Best Practice toolkit and case studies explore relationship of housing and transportation costs

The complete tool for measuring true affordability of housing choices along with six individual case studies from Southern California have been added to the Best Practices.

This tool brings the cost of transportation into the calculus of housing costs. Developed by the Center for Neighborhood Technology in partnership with the Center for Transit-Oriented Development, the Housing and Transportation Affordability Index is a new tool that accounts for household spending on transportation, along with home prices, to estimate whether a home is truly affordable.

The index shows how affordability changes from neighborhood to neighborhood throughout Southern California and that the most affordable neighborhoods tend to be mixed use, compact in design, walkable and near transit and jobs.

"The case studies are completely different in terms of density, mix of land uses, and transit access, from the BRT in El Monte to the Metro Red Line in Koreatown. But their common thread is that by offering residents a range shopping and services within walking distance, as well as transit access to major regional job centers, they will enjoy lower transportation costs and reduced VMT," explains Abigail Thorne-Lyman, who along with Alison Nemirow wrote the case studies.

The case studies examine different local government approaches to a paradox associated with dispersed growth in which housing appears more affordable until the high transportation costs are considered. The Housing and Transportation Affordability Index toolbox synthesizes results from the case studies and recommends potential policy "tools" that local planners, elected officials and others can use to promote affordability in their Southern California communities.

The toolkit and case studies were sponsored by the Compass Blueprint, a planning program of the Southern California Council of Governments.