Housing + Transportation Affordability

Center for Neighborhood Technology: Housing + Transportation Affordability Index
An interesting idea, though I don’t really buy the results, since housing as a percentage of income is a choice and there should not be a standard against which we judge this. If I choose to consume more house and less entertainment, who is to say that is “unaffordable”. If housing + transport in the exurbs take a higher share of income than the cities, isn’t that what the exurbanites prefer, and don’t they get better houses than we city folk (i.e. likely to be new with all the amenities and more sq.ft. per person)?

3 thoughts on “Housing + Transportation Affordability

  1. The report does factor time of transport into the the economic equation.
    As far as the usefulness of the affordability label, I think it is meant more for analyzing entire regions rather than individual households. Sure, many people may opt to pay more for their housing and transport, and that’s fine. But this data gives some understanding of what those extra costs amount to in particular regions and compares them to other regions.
    If someone wants to move to suburbia for the solitude and other personal reasons, this may not mean anything to them. However, if they believe that they are saving money by doing so this data could be very helpful.


  2. Daniel,
    I reviewed the Brookings Institution report that describes the “affordability” calculations. There does not appear to be any consideration of time. The notions of cost are apparently based solely on household expenditures. They are the sum of the fixed and variable costs of owning a vehicle plus transit costs (read: fares).
    This is a bit curious, since the report purports to find that more central locations are less costly. The calculations focus on (private) housing and transportation expenditures, while ignoring the other costs associated with living in these “low cost” areas. Central cities (and counties) tend to have higher public spending levels in general, due to, among other things, the need to pay for the types of transit systems the report advocates.


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