Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Transportation Costs Make "Affordable" Housing Not So Affordable

Here's an interesting article from Streetsblog USA titled "High Transportation Costs Make a Lot of HUD Housing Unaffordable." We discussed this phenomenon locally while developing our long-range transportation plan, Horizon 2040, in 2012. Oftentimes, housing is cheaper the further you get from city centers or metropolitan areas. Some people buy homes in rural areas because they are much more affordable. The problem comes when they need to commute to reach jobs, schools and services such as medical or groceries for those who are retired. The cost to fuel and maintain a car in an area that doesn't offer public transportation can offset the price of "affordable" housing.

The Streetsblog article talks about a new study done by the University of Texas and the University of Utah that evaluated transportation costs for more than 18,000 households receiving HUD rental subsidies. The results show that nearly half have to spend more than 15 percent of the household budget on transportation. HUD's criteria for "affordable housing" is that it consumes less than 30 percent of a family's income. However, that doesn't consider transportation costs.

The study looked at the areas with the highest share of rental assistance properties with high transportation costs, shown in the table below (click to view in a larger size).

Conversely, here are the cities with the highest share of properties with affordable transportation costs:

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About SRTC

SRTC is the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for Spokane County. Urbanized areas with populations exceeding 50,000 people are required to have an MPO. SRTC was formed to address the county's transportation planning needs. It provides coordination in planning between the public, cities, small towns, the county, the state, transit providers, and tribes.

SRTC offers services including transportation monitoring, transportation modeling, census information analysis, travel demand forecasting, historical traffic count analysis, geographic information systems, and trip generation rates.