New Report: Transport Determines Housing Affordability

The District of Columbia Office of Planning, in cooperation with the Chicago-based Center for Neighborhood Technology, released a study that found transportation costs range from $8,500 to $25,000 per household in the D.C. region. The report,  ”H+T in DC: Housing + Transportation Affordability in Washington, DC,” investigates how neighborhood characteristics, such as proximity to jobs and access to transit, vary across the region and affect household transportation costs.

“Everyone knows that the cost of housing varies across neighborhoods throughout the region,” says Harriet Tregoning, director of the Office of Planning. “But fewer people recognize the extent to which transportation costs vary by location and affect real affordability.”

According to the study, transportation costs can be lower if neighborhoods enable their residents to live without owning a car.

“Our years of research show that transportation costs are a significant part of a household budget—sometimes exceeding housing expenses—and those costs vary significantly depending on where a person lives,” said Peter Haas, chief research scientist for CNT. “Places that are ‘location efficient,’ which offer multiple transportation options and access to amenities, tend to have low transportation costs.  This helps residents be more economically resilient, and enables them to better weather economic adversity.”

The D.C. study is based on CNT’s Housing + Transportation (H+T®) Affordability Index, a value that uses U.S. Census data to examine how neighborhood and household characteristics affect transportation costs, such as car ownership and transit use. The model was developed with the help of the Brookings Institution’s Urban Markets Initiative. Along with the help of the Rockefeller Foundation, the Index model has been applied to 337 metro regions in the United States to measure the true affordability of housing by calculating the transportation costs associated with a home’s location.