Quantifying Housing's Hidden Transportation Bill

The Housing and Transportation Affordability Index is a new tool calculates affordability at the census tract level by taking into account not only housing costs, but transportation as well.
July 3, 2006, 11am PDT | kheffernan
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"There are good economic reasons why it should. If young families did the math, they might discover that buying a bargain-priced split-level on the suburban fringe isn't such a bargain after all, what with automotive expenses. Better to buy closer in, near a Metra line or a bus route, within walking distance of schools and stores. Trouble is, that kind of math rarely gets done...yet in truly free markets both buyers and sellers must have accurate information about what they're buying and selling. So where does one obtain information about the future transportation costs of one location versus another?"

The Housing and Transportation Affordability Index is a new tool developed by the Center for Neighborhood Technology and the Center for Transit Oriented Development, with the support of the Brookings Institution Urban Markets Initiative. The tool calculates affordability at the census tract level by taking into account not only housing costs, but transportation as well.

The tool shows the value of neighborhood characteristics like access to jobs, good and frequent mass transit, and close proximity to goods and services. The tool is meant to raise the question: "If everyone over age 18 needs a car to function in such [some] places...where in the household budget is the $4,000 average annual cost of owning and operating each vehicle in the family fleet?"

Thanks to Kara Heffernan

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Published on Friday, June 30, 2006 in The Chicago Tribune
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