New Analysis of Housing and Transportation Costs for Metro DC Workers Released

Cover of Beltway Burden: The Combined Cost of Housing and Transportation in the Greater Washington, D.C. Metropolitan AreaIn partnership with CNT and the Center for Housing Policy (CHP), the Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) Terwilliger Center for Workforce Housing released a report which finds that housing located far from transit and employment centers places a heavy financial strain on working families in the Washington, DC metropolitan region. According to the study, Beltway Burden: The Combined Cost of Housing and Transportation in the Greater Washington, DC Metropolitan Area, households, region-wide, are spending an average of $23,000 on housing and $13,000 on transportation annually.

An estimated 60 percent of households have either high housing cost burdens, high transportation cost burdens or both. Housing located far from transit and employment centers places a heavy financial strain on working families in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan region, according to the report which documents the challenges faced by area working families who are forced to “drive ‘till they qualify” for housing, incurring higher transportation costs that eventually erode their housing cost savings. It finds that area families are victim to combined housing and transportation costs that constitute, on average, nearly 47 percent of the area median income.

To lower the housing-transportation cost burden for the Washington metro area, the report suggests that part of the answer is “creating more housing and transportation choices.” This can be achieved by local policymakers working to ensure that housing in desirable close-in locations offer affordable housing for a wide range of incomes.

CNT also worked in partnership with the Terwilliger Center to release the Terwilliger Cost Calculator, which (much like CNT’s Housing + Transportation Affordability Index mapping website) provides consumers with up-to-date Washington, D.C. metro area housing and transportation cost data that they can use to make informed decisions on where to live and work. The calculator allows users to input their current home and work addresses and compare their current housing and transportation costs to the costs they would incur if they chose to change their home and/or work addresses.

“The Terwilliger Cost Calculator allows people to examine the relationship of where they live to what they spend on housing and transportation,” said Dr. Peter Haas, CNT’s chief research scientist. “Until now, individuals only knew the cost of housing when moving into a new neighborhood, but this tool allows consumers to estimate transportation costs as well. By choosing a location-efficient neighborhood near transit, services and jobs, families can reduce their monthly household expenses because the money they save by lower transportation needs can offset a more expensive house.” Haas also pointed out that this tool is useful for planners and housing advocates in thinking about both housing and public transit development in their communities.

Read more in the Press Release or read the full report, Beltway Burden: The Combined Cost of Housing and Transportation in the Greater Washington, DC Metropolitan Area.