“If we truly want to reckon with our national poverty crisis, we don’t just have to build more affordable apartment rentals. We also have to take a hard look at what it will take to make going car-lite or car-free a feasible possibility for more people — or else we might leave a lot of low-income Americans behind,” writes Kea Wilson for StreetsBlogUSA.
Traditionally, housing has been deemed to be affordable if it costs no more than 30 percent of household income. But transportation costs are the second largest expense of most households. The Center for Neighborhood Technology suggests that 45 percent of household income spent on housing and transportation, combined, provides a better measurement for affordability, and liveability.
The Housing and Transportation (H+T®) Affordability Index has been including the cost of transport in their data since 2006, and their index measures affordability in a way that looks at both the cost of housing and the cost of transportation at the neighborhood level. Dividing these costs by median household income shows the cost burden of housing and transportation in any given area. To learn about the affordability of your city and neighborhood, just enter a city name, state or zip code on the H+T Map.
A new report by the Citizens Budget Commission combines housing and transportation costs as a percentage of area and shows that a good transit network is a definite advantage. By this measure, New York City, which has high housing costs but a great transit network, ranks as the eighth most affordable city out of 20. The poorest scorers are car-centric cities such as Miami, Detroit and Los Angeles. Second on the affordability list is Washington, D.C., where over 37 percent of the population uses public transit; and near the bottom is Phoenix, where transit-ridership is at about four percent. And this is not because of the price of fares – a day pass in Washington D.C. costs twice as much as in Phoenix – but simply because of the development pattern of these cities.
Instead of having cities that are car-dependent we need cities where walking, cycling and mass transit are the easy, accessible options.
Read the full story here.
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