Housing + Transportation
CNT has developed a new and more comprehensive way of thinking about the cost of housing and true affordability by exploring the impact that transportation costs associated with the location of the housing have on a household’s economic bottom line. This builds off CNT’s research into Location Efficiency–which led to Location Efficient Mortgages (LEMs)–reinforcing the relationship between urban form, housing site selection and transportation costs.
The H + T Affordability Index
To integrate this way of thinking into the choices and decisions made by home buyers, renters, urban and transportation planners, and developers, CNT and our collaborative partner, the Center for Transit Oriented Development (CTOD), developed a groundbreaking tool, the Housing + Transportation Affordability Index, that measures the true affordability of housing choice-by factoring in both housing and transportation costs in a neighborhood.
The H + T Affordability Index is an innovative tool that challenges the traditional measure of affordability used by planners, lenders, and most consumers-which recommends that housing should be less than 30 percent of income. The H + T Index, in contrast, takes into account not just the cost of housing, but the costs of housing and transportation. The Index has received much attention from policy makers for its benefits to planners and TOD advocates and is already being used for additional research.
In 2008, the Housing + Transportation Affordability Index for 52 metropolitan areas in the U.S. became available through an interactive look-up and mapping website, located at www.htaindex.org. The latest release in March 2010 expands the H + T analysis to over 330 metros in the U.S., providing coverage for more than 80% of the population in the U.S.
In 2009, in partnership with The Terwilliger Center for Workforce Housing of the Urban Land Institute and the Center for Housing Policy, CNT produced an updated H + T analysis for the Washington DC area culminating in a report The Beltway Burden: The Combined Cost of Housing and Transportation in the Greater Washington, DC Metropolitan Area. To expand the reach of the H + T Index, CNT developed a new online housing and transportation cost calculator where consumers can access up-to-date Washington, DC cost data to make informed housing decisions. CNT later partnered with ULI and CHP to produce The Bay Area Burden: Examining the Impacts and Hidden Costs of Housing and Transportation and added the San Francisco region to the online cost calculator.
For more history of the Housing + Transportation Affordability Index and its various applications, see the About Page at the H+T Index website.
CNT thanks its funders for their insightful and generous support for the development and expansion of the H + T Index: The Brookings Urban Markets Initiative, Center for Housing Policy of the National Housing Conference, Chicago Community Trust, The Energy Foundation, Grand Victoria Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, McKnight Foundation, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Searle Funds at the Chicago Community Trust, Surdna Foundation and Wallace Global Fund. The H + T work has also been greatly enhanced by the many transit agencies who generously shared their route and system information.