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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Build Day with Habitat for Humanity

What would be better than a Build Day on a warm Saturday in February?

Yesterday, I spent the day with Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake in Baltimore, as a precursor to the Bike and Build adventure this summer. As an individual amongst 22 other volunteers, we got a lot done on the home that was a badly damaged duplex in the Govan neighborhood.

One volunteer I spoke with had been on this project since October. Since then, she had seen the home go from no back wall or flooring to what it was (as of our Build Day) – all three floors constructed, with studs in place on the top floor, and the entire back of the home built up. Our volunteer coordinator, Matt, mentioned this will be one of approximately 20 homes that this chapter of Habitat builds yearly.

hfhc-back-of-home

The rear of the home, built since October. On the left is a fellow volunteer, and one of the site supervisors, on the right. Between them is concrete poured earlier that day.

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