Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Why living in the core matters

This is a follow up post to a TC Streets for People entry I posted a few days ago about the housing and transportation affordability index. A very quick glimpse shows that those individuals who live with in the city limits are better off when it comes to affordability for housing and transportation.

This is how CNT defines affordability:

H+T has been developed as a more complete measure of affordability beyond the standard method of assessing only Housing Costs. By taking into account both the cost of housing as well as the cost of transportation associated with the location of the home, H+T provides a more complete understanding of affordability. Dividing these costs by Representative Regional Incomes illustrates the Cost Burden placed on a Typical Household by H+T expenses. While housing alone is traditionally deemed affordable when consuming no more than 30% of income, CNT has defined an affordable range for H+T as the combined costs consuming no more than 45% of income.

As the maps clearly demonstrate the urban core is well below the 45% (yellow) threshold. When I look at my neighborhood stats we are at 32% for both H + T . For those that know the Twin Cities it looks like only the really well to do neighborhoods, no surprise, are beyond the 45% (dark blue) threshold due to housing costs. The moral of the story here is that living in an affordable neighborhood with close and accessible transit makes for a an affordable home in regards to housing and transit.

This second set of maps shows the difference between transit ridership percentages and travel time to work. Yes, you guessed it, the closer in you live to downtown the higher the transit ridership (dark green) and shorter the commute (yellow). We are talking easily understood stats here that are clear as day when illustrated with these maps.

So if you live outside the city core your are more than likely paying more than 45% of your income for housing and transportation. Then you are loosing valuable time because your commute is over half an hour. This brings me to my main point.

MOVE TO THE CITY. Minneapolis and St. Paul happen to be a great options for families. We have good schools (in relative terms), yards for the kids to play in, garages for those cars to sit in, culture and arts, and some great natural amenities. Yes, while your work might be in the wrong direction, but in an urban cores we need to create a critical mass again of workers in both downtowns (I assure you that they can both use more companies and jobs) we can then start to demand and build the transportation infrastructure that will meet the needs of the new work force for the next 50-100 years. We have a good start, but we need more than one North Star line and one LRT line. We need serious investment.

If the 35W bridge collapse proved anything, it proves that we can get things done fast and efficient when we put our minds to it.

1 comment:

Jeremy R. Levine said...

The major problem here is that the CNT data doesn't weight for different median income by census block. i.e. the inner city has lower costs, but the burden is higher because their incomes are lower. This doesn't come through in the CNT maps. The "costs as a % of income" metric in the CNT maps uses the metro-wide median income as the income for all census blocks, which gives a misleading picture of burden.