It is indeed possible to have a city full of low-rise buildings that is still compact enough for excellent transit service—but only if most side streets are used for mid-rise buildings instead of houses.
The Los Angeles Transit-Oriented Communities program, which offers development bonuses in exchange for affordable housing in developments near transit lines, is the city's most successful affordable housing tool.
Cities like San Francisco or New York can suck up all the oxygen for the conversation about housing affordability in the U.S. Meanwhile rapidly growing cities like Nashville, where the scope of a crisis of affordability is no less dire.
Chicago's current housing policies aren't protecting or producing affordable housing in gentrifying areas, so Mayor Rahm Emanuel is proposing a restructuring of the government. Advocates are skeptical of the idea.
A pair of interactive maps and a report compare access to opportunity in two very different neighborhoods. In both places, residents confront "friction of distance" and feel their input on public decision-making is limited.