The secretaries of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have announced their intent to focus efforts on promoting the construction of housing near public transit in order to create more affordable and sustainable communities.
The U.S. DOT and HUD jointly funded a study by Reconnecting America's Center for Transit-Oriented Development (CTOD) in 2007 that showed that cost of living was dependent not just on the cost of housing but on the costs of housing and transportation combined. Called "Realizing the Potential: Expanding Housing Opportunities Near Transit," the study found that while families who live in auto-dependent neighborhoods spend an average of 25 percent of their household budgets on transportation, families who live near transit spend just 9 percent.
The U.S. DOT has also funded a new CTOD study that shows that households living near transit produce 43 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than those living in the region at large, and that households in central business districts produce the least emissions of all.
On March 18, DOT Secretary Ray LaHood and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan announced a new inter-agency partnership to provide Americans with more affordable housing and transportation choices with the goal of shortening travel times, increasing affordability, and making communities more livable and sustainable. A task force will provide planning grants to metro areas, develop an index that measures both transportation and housing costs into one measure of affordability, to better coordinate their programs, and to undertake joint research, data collection and outreach.
"One of my highest priorities is to help promote more livable communities through sustainable surface transportation programs," said Secretary LaHood. Added Secretary Donovan, "This partnership will help expand every American family's choices for affordable housing and transportation."
An interactive online version of the affordability index was made available in 2008 to provide a comparison of the combined housing and transportation affordability, at the census tract level, for the 50 largest metropolitan areas. The index is available at http://htaindex.cnt.org/.