Saturday, June 04, 2016

Is HUD housing affordable? New FAU study says not when you factor in costs to commute

Public Release: 29-Mar-2016
Is HUD housing affordable? New FAU study says not when you factor in costs to commute
Florida Atlantic University


"HUD does not factor transportation costs into how they measure affordability. Many low-income people on Section 8 are forced to live in inaccessible locations where they can find landlords willing to accept the vouchers, which are often far from their jobs or quality transit service to reach their jobs," said John Renne, Ph.D., study co-author and director and associate professor in the Center for Urban & Environmental Solutions in the School of Urban and Regional Planning within the College for Design and Social Inquiry at FAU. "Transportation costs, after housing, is the second biggest expense in the budgets of most American households, especially for those who live in suburban areas with poor transit connectivity."

According to the Consumer Expenditure Survey, housing plus transportation costs consumed 43 percent of U.S. household incomes in 2011.


Results from the study show:

Of the 8,857 properties, households in 3,860 properties (44 percent of all properties in the study sample) spent on average 15 percent of their income on transportation costs.

A property located in a HUD assistance program in downtown Los Angeles had the lowest transportation costs spending $1,988 or less than 3.5 percent of its household budget on transportation. The same household in a property in a distant and inaccessible location in Wheeling, W.V.-Ohio County spent $10,349 or 28 percent of its household budget on transportation.

Transportation is unaffordable for all properties in 70 of the 322 metropolitan areas and divisions that supply Section 8 Multifamily rental assistance. Some of these areas are Memphis, Tenn.; Orlando, Fla.; Hickory, N.C.; and Las Vegas.

Conversely, the more compact metropolitan areas were found to have the highest number of affordable rental assistance properties.

San Francisco has the highest percentage of affordable properties, followed by Denver; Los Angeles; Washington, D.C.; Portland, Ore.; and New York.

"Our research suggests that these particular HUD rental assistance programs, when they subsidize housing in sprawling auto-dependent areas, are not holistically affordable," said Renne. "It also suggests that HUD can provide more affordable units to low-income families by directing subsidies to better or more compact, walkable, and transit-served locations."


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