Ode to Commonsense: Mobility and affordable housing

By Mike Dobbins

June 15 – Lower income people, often lacking cars yet more bound to their work locations, suffer greater travel inequities than others. Getting to jobs, shopping, health, education, and other services costs more and takes longer. Shortening the distance and the accessibility both by highway and by transit from home to these destinations begins to ease those burdens.

From this perspective, affordable housing is infrastructure, a necessity for a decent life. At the same time, making these moves begins to ease some of transportation’s greatest unmet challenges.

For highways, the challenges and opportunities include:

  • Reduce vehicle miles travelled (VMT);
  • Reduce congestion;
  • Reduce travelers’ costs;
  • Improve air quality;
  • Boost economic productivity by reducing travel time;
  • Create jobs;
  • Provide more equitable transportation access.

For transit, the challenges and opportunities include:

  • Shorten distances between origins and destinations
  • Build ridership, the make or break metric for transit
  • Serve those most in need of transit access, Transit Oriented People (TOPs)
  • Links to proliferating last mile modes – cycling, scootering, walking

How to do it:

  1. Land costs are the single biggest obstacle for producing affordable workforce housing;
  2. Use funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to buy land closer to concentrated destinations and along major corridors;
  3. Partner with public, non-profit, and private developers in order to flex land costs necessary to deliver affordable housing closer to destinations

In short, a twofer: housing affordability and transportation challenges met!

For more detail, please read these previous stories:

Investments in transit and affordable housing offer the opportunity to address two issues at once. (Credit: David Pendered)