Region Forward Blog

Leaders Asked to Test Housing and Affordability Tool

Nov 20, 2013
Walkable development with transportation options in Crystal City VA. Photo by thisisbossi


For most families housing and transportation are the two largest household budget items. When combined these expenses should not account for any more than 45 percent of household income. That number ensures that households can purchase quality food save for retirement and invest in education. Over the past decade researchers have begun mining data for insight on how to better achieve this balance.

The Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) took on this task and created the H T Index which compiled relative housing and transportation costs. In the initial H T index researchers chose a big picture approach to show a wide audience how some low cost housing could lead to high cost lifestyles.

The broad appeal of the H T Index has been enhanced by the federal Livable Communities Partnership a joint effort between the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) the US Department of Transportation (DOT) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This new tool measures “location affordability” which includes additional household types and more nuanced data. Simply this new tool aims to better define affordability for several common household types which experts hope will be more useful for policy makers.

The often complex relationship between housing and transportation costs is surprising. This ratio varies wildly across regions and within them as evidenced by recent news stories and blog posts.

One of the Region Forward vision’s targets called attention to combined housing and transportation costs and reducing these expenses will help advance our goals to be a more accessible region. Region Forward Coalition Chair Mary Hynes is asking her colleagues and regional stakeholders to take a look and see if this tool can be helpful. By testing it local policy makers can let HUD know if the tool will be useful in national policy development and implementation. Please visit My Transportation Cost Calculator now.


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