Illinois Adopts H + T as Planning Tool

IL-htIn an important step toward creating affordable communities, the Illinois legislature has adopted the measure of housing and transportation affordability as a planning tool for five agencies and as a consideration for those agencies’ investment decisions in metro areas.

Senator Kwame Raoul led the effort to pass the Housing + Transportation Affordability Index Act (SB 347) in the Illinois Senate last month, and on Tuesday the bill passed in the House with overwhelming bipartisan support, led by Representative Barbara Flynn Currie, Chief Sponsor, and seven co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle.

CNT has been working with Illinois legislators since early 2009 to advance this valuable piece of legislation that applies CNT’s framework of combining housing and transportation costs to planning and making public investment decisions.

Used as a planning tool, the H + T Affordability IndexSM can effectively measure the impacts on household budgets that result from public investments, so that decision makers can choose investments that make sense for our taxpayer dollars as well as for our individual wallets.

Five state agencies participated in the development of this legislation that will provide better access to the costs of both housing and transportation. Having a tool to use as a benchmark will give these agencies the ability to screen how investment decisions will impact the cost of living for residents in metro areas.

The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), the Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) can use CNT’s H+T Affordability Index, or a similar measure that includes both housing and transportation costs, to screen and prioritize public investments in MPO areas. In addition, the Capital Development Board (CDB) and the Illinois Finance Authority (IFA) will recommend the use of the Index for new siting decisions.

By encouraging public investments that take advantage of existing areas of greater density, which all communities have, the State is taking initial steps that contribute to lowering the cost of living for families.

Illinois has the opportunity to set a valuable example to other states for how the use of combined housing and transportation data can move regions towards decisions that create more sustainable and equitable growth. While the Partnership for Livable Communities is driving Federal priorities to coordinate housing, transportation and environmental investments, Illinois is leading the states by example to create better and more affordable places to live and work.

CNT joins state leaders to now urge Governor Quinn to sign the Housing + Transportation Affordability Act into law with no delay.

4 Responses to “Illinois Adopts H + T as Planning Tool”

  1. Illinois Adopts H + T as Planning Tool : Center for Neighborhood Technology « Petit à petit… Says:

    [...] Illinois Adopts H + T as Planning Tool : Center for Neighborhood Technology. [...]

  2. Daniel Lauber Says:

    What a great idea. For years I’ve been reading about how transportation costs — which are second only to housing costs in the budgets of most households — should be included when determining a community’s affordability. The Housing and Transportation Affordability Index should become the standard measure of affordability. We’re going to see if we can start using it immediately in the Analyses of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice that we conduct for CDBG recipient jurisdictions.

    Very nice work. Thank you CNT.

  3. Lyn Sims Says:

    Interesting that now both costs are combined to provide a more realistic budget picture for the area. I am also suggesting that since the Chicago area has excessive gas taxes & prices (currently over $3.11) that is one reason why the affordability factor jumps over the stated norms.

  4. annette Says:

    Lyn – It is true that the Chicago area has relatively high gas prices and we do capture this. We have incorporated regional average gas prices for 2000 as reported by the Energy Information Administration (See more info on our methodology at http://htaindex.cnt.org/method.php). However, we have found that gas prices have a relatively small impact on the overall transportation costs. Auto ownership, separate from the actual use of vehicles, composes the vast majority of transportation costs, or approximately 81% overall. Auto use, for which gasoline purchases are combined with maintenance and repairs, makes up an average of 18% of total transportation costs.

    We did also produce a series of maps that compare the impact of 2000 and 2008 gas prices (link to http://htaindex.cnt.org/mapping_tool.php#theme_menu=2&region=Atlanta,%20GA) that find that location inefficient neighborhoods, indeed, are more vulnerable to fluctuating gas prices. Both the H + T maps and the gas-cost maps paint similar portraits: people that live in dispersed neighborhoods, far from jobs, transit, and retail amenities, are more susceptible to extenuating market factors, such as fluctuations in the gas prices (or declining home values).