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The paradox of affordability

The researchers at the Center for Neighbourhood Technology and the Center for Housing Policy have recently added to their impressive body of work on the combined costs of housing and transportation. In Losing Ground: The Struggle of Moderate Income Households to Afford the Rising Costs of Housing and Transportation, CNT and CHP have again shown why it is often more affordable overall to live in cities that are characterized as having expensive housing.

While the combined costs of housing and transportation rose in the largest 25 American municipalities, including the transportation costs in their measure of affordability has resulted in some interesting results: while Houston was the 8th most affordable city for housing, once transportation costs were considered, it dropped to 17th place. This applies to other cities like Miami, Tampa, Riverside, CA, and Los Angeles. Washington, D.C., which ranked dead last for housing affordability, had the lowest combined housing and transportation costs; following it were Philadelphia, Baltimore, Minneapolis and Boston. The report delves into much more detail on medium- and low-income households.

As in their other studies, CNT and CHP recommend the preservation of affordable and rental housing near job centres and transit stations, regulatory reforms like location-efficient mortgages, incentives or requirements to include affordable housing in areas with good transit access, mechanisms to ensure long-term affordability, and improvements to transit service and walkability in compact areas where housing costs are low.


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