The Hidden Burden of Inefficient Locations

Bay-Area-BurdenToday, the Urban Land Institute’s Terwilliger Center for Workforce Housing released Bay Area Burden, which found that after their combined housing and transportation expenditures, San Francisco Bay Area workers are left with insufficient resources to meet their basic needs. The research by CNT, Center for Housing Policy and ULI, shows that the average Bay Area household spends more than $41,000 a year—nearly 60 percent of their income—on transportation and housing costs alone.

Bay Area Burden provides a comprehensive analysis of the “cost of place” in nine counties located throughout the San Francisco region by examining the costs and impacts of housing and transportation on residents, their neighborhoods and the environment.

And the implications are not unique to the Bay Area alone. The findings show that whenever housing is not efficiently located to jobs, stores, schools and other amenities, household transportation expenses soar above the recommended 18% of one’s income. CNT’s Housing + Transportation Affordability Index currently displays this trend in 52 metropolitan areas in the U.S. and will soon expand to over 330.

“This heavy burden forces residents to make extremely difficult decisions that pit housing and transportation choices against other basic needs such as health care, education and food,” said ULI Terwilliger Center Chairman J. Ronald Terwilliger. “These findings reinforce that years of ever-sprawling development have resulted in a growing gap between where people live and where they work.” Terwilliger, chairman and chief executive officer of Trammell Crow Residential, founded the center in 2007 to help achieve a measurable increase in the supply of workforce housing in high-cost markets throughout the nation.

Today, the report and cost calculator have been released in conjunction with the launch of, a resource center of information to aid individuals, households, planners, government officials and municipalities better understand the issues and true costs of housing and transportation for Bay Area residents. CNT developed, in partnership with ULI, this product which allows users to input their own expenses to show their true burden as well as allows them to explore how to lower this by moving closer to their place of employment or to areas better public transportation systems. The calculator makes a seemingly complex set of choices seem easy—a couple of clicks makes regional location costs transparent and legible.

“No longer will the true cost of a house be hidden in the Bay Area,” says Scott Bernstein, CNT President. “This calculator is an insurance policy against the rising and chaotic costs for transportation and fuel and will help home seekers, both owners and renters, know what it’s worth to take advantage of the region’s mass transportation and local amenities, and in the process, avoid locations that are too financially risky.”

Watch the live webcast Today at Noon CST.

Download the Press Release and the Report