Updated and Expanded H+T Index Reveals Combined Housing and Transportation Affordability Has Declined Since 2000
CNT has just released the latest version of the Housing + Transportation (H+T®) Affordability Index, using the most up-to-date Census data. While this is exciting news for those who have used the Index in the past, the news on affordability isn’t so bright.
Most places are unaffordable when it comes to combined housing and transportation costs. 72% of American communities are unaffordable for typical regional households when transportation costs—the second largest expense in a family budget—are considered along with housing costs. Under the traditional definition of housing affordability, where a rent or mortgage payment consumes no more than 30 percent of household income, three out of four (76 percent) US communities are considered “affordable” to the regional typical household making their area’s median income. However, under an expanded definition of affordability, where housing and transportation costs consume no more than 45 percent of income, the number of affordable communities decreases to 28 percent, resulting in a loss of 86,000 neighborhoods that are within reach for a typical family.
Transportation costs have risen 39%; much more than income. The analysis also shows that it is much more difficult for the typical household to find a truly affordable place to live today than it was a decade ago, with incomes having increased roughly half as much as transportation and housing costs since 2000. Median housing costs, as reported by the US Census, have increased by nearly 37 percent nationwide, while the national median income has only increased by approximately 22 percent. Average transportation costs in the geographies covered by both Indexes increased by more than 39 percent or $318 per month.
People living in walkable, transit-accessible places are better off. Despite the increase in transportation costs from 2000 to 2009, the Index shows that people living in location efficient neighborhoods—characterized by access to transit, jobs, and amenities—experienced a smaller increase than those living in car-dependent places. The typical family living in a location efficient neighborhood in 2000 (where transportation costs were less than 15 percent of the national median income), saw average transportation costs increase by approximately $1,400 annually. Meanwhile, families living in inefficient neighborhoods (where 2000 transportation costs were greater than 15 percent of the national median income), had average transportation costs increase by more than twice as much, or slightly over $3,900 annually. The difference between these two numbers, $3,900 and $1400 per year, is a benefit of $200 per month “less exposure” to the rising cost of gas during the decade.
CNT used the Index to rank the metropolitan areas that had the highest and lowest average monthly transportation costs for a typical family earning the national median income. Be sure to check out the Index and create your own custom comparisons.
See the rankings of metropolitan areas that had the highest and lowest average monthly transportation costs ››
Read the full press release ››
Use the H+T Affordability Index ››
Listen to the H+T webinar ››