Connecting housing and transportation

Earlier this month, Bike Maryland held their annual Bike Symposium. Folks who attended heard from the Maryland Department of Transportation, Washington Area Bicyclists Association, as well as other groups. The Symposium also educated attendees about what state bills had been introduced regarding cycling and pedestrian safety. Overall, it was an educational day focused on bikes, but also kept in mind transportation equity for everyone.

Hearing about the bills in the midst of preparing for Bike and Build brought me to consider the connection between transportation and housing. They are, after all, often the two biggest costs on a family’s income. Affordable housing is often developed away from public transit (since housing near transit is in high demand and expensive) and lacks safe bike infrastructure, and low-income individuals often cannot afford a car, let alone the indirect costs of driving such as auto-care and parking costs.

From Mobility Lab:

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Guidebook for Creating Connected Communities, typical households in auto-dependent neighborhoods spend about 25 percent of their income on transportation costs, but this number drops to 9 percent in neighborhoods with a variety of mobility options.

This frees up money for individuals and families to save for homeownership, health care costs, and higher education, in addition to reducing time-costs. Targeting both affordable housing and transportation equity can greatly reduce the burden on low-income individuals and families.

An example of the value of this relationship between housing and transportation is seen in the fight to restore funding for a subway line connecting West Baltimore, home to many low-income families of color, to the city center, the source of many jobs.

To truly improve quality of life, affordable housing should be seen in tandem with other factors as well, such as transportation. For now, building affordable housing alongside thirty other young adults across the country is a good place to start.

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March update

Time flies, doesn’t it?

Fundraising update: 85% done! Family, friends, and complete strangers have been generous to support the affordable housing cause, and I couldn’t be more grateful! Curious about how the money is used? Click here.

Bike update: Received THE bike!

bike

Damn.

 

With just enough time in the day, I squeezed in a ride to my local park and enjoyed the view.

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View of the South River from Quiet Waters Park.

 

What’s next? Fixing the flat I got on the way home, then riding 492 more miles before orientation in June. Oh, and the Maryland Bike Symposium for fun.

Visualizing the shortage of affordable housing in the USA

Thought I’d share this article from CityLab.com by Tanvi Misra that displays the shortage of affordable housing by state. (Gotta love visual learning.)

On a national level, there’s a shortage of 3.9 million affordable homes for low income families. This translates to only 35 units per 100 extremely poor families. Yikes. By state, Alabama has the most, with 61 units. Breakin’ it down by metro area, Las Vegas has only 12 units per 100 families, and Boston has the most, with 46 units per 100. ‘Murica, we can do better.

visualizing-affordable-housing-shortages-by-state

From CityLab.com. Any of these states catch you by surprise?

 

This is causing a chain reaction across income levels. Because of the shortage of affordable housing rental units, families with middle income levels are forced into the units that are for lower income families. In fact, of the 7.5 million rental units that are considered affordable for low income families, 3.5 of them are occupied by a higher income level renter.

What does this mean? It means that a good chunk (over 30%) of a family’s income is spent on housing, leaving less money for other expenses, such as food, health care, transportation, and higher education. Imagine having to choose between your prescription medication or dinner. (In fact, the National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates that 71% of extremely poor families spend over half of their income on rent and utilities.)

What’s the solution here? More affordable housing, of course. But that’s easier said than done, with housing assistance policies such as the Low Income Tax Housing Tax Credit that may not be interesting to developers anymore, and the Mortgage Income Tax Deduction. From the article:

Housing assistance policies have not caught up to this new reality. Reforming the Low Income Tax Housing Tax Credit, a key program that helps build affordable housing so it better addresses the needs of the most burdened renters, is one recommendation NLIHC makes in the report. Housing advocates also argue that the Mortgage Income Tax Deduction, which is designed to promote homeownership, is ineffective.

You can read the rest of the article here. Feeling slightly overwhelmed and not sure how to help? Learn how Bike and Build is making an impact on affordable housing across the country, and click here to check out why I’m getting involved.