than half of the homes in most of the 25 cities, even if
they were willing to settle for two-bedrooms. In nine
of the cities, they could afford just one in five homes.
Finding affordable rental housing is just as hard. More
than half of renters in the nation’s 25 largest cities
spend more than 30 percent of household income on
rent, according to the latest census estimates. Plus just
5. 2 percent of the rental stock consists of units with
three bedrooms or more.
Urban planning expert Christopher Leinberger, co-author of “Foot Traffic Ahead: 2016,” doesn’t deny
that rents are often “too damn high” in walkable urban
neighborhoods, but argues that looking at housing costs
alone is myopic.
A key finding in “Foot Traffic Ahead” was that higher
housing costs in walkable urban places (WalkUPs)
within the nation’s 30 largest metro areas are offset by
lower transportation costs and greater access to higher
paying jobs — mainly due to the greater density and
better transit service found in WalkUPs.
The finding is based on a social equity index that takes
into account housing and transportation costs (as a
percentage of household income for households earn-
ing 80 percent of area median income) plus the number
of nearby jobs.
Eight of the 10 metros that rank highest for walkable
urbanism also rank in the top 10 for social equity while
seven of the 10 metros that rank lowest for walkable
urbanism rank in the bottom 10 for social equity.
“It doesn’t avoid the challenge that we have of producing affordable housing, but if you earned 80 percent of
area medium income, you’d much rather be in a walkable community like Seattle or Washington, D.C., than
be in Tampa or Phoenix,” Leinberger said.
As demand drives up the cost of land and therefore
the cost of housing in walkable urban neighborhoods,
the answer is obvious — increase supply by amending
codes and regulations to allow more housing to be built
in such places, Leinberger said. “If we shift 2 percent
Demand drives up the cost of land
and therefore the cost of housing
in walkable urban neighborhoods.
Courtesy of NYC & Company/Photo by Tagger Yancey IV
Courtesy of NYC & Company/Photo by Julienne Schaer