Study Says Transportation Costs Add To Housing Affordability Crunch

Monday, February 26, 2018
- photo by Center for Neighborhood Technology Housing and Transportation Index Data
More than half of the Tennessee communities where housing is currently considered affordable are actually unaffordable when transportation costs are factored in, according to new research from the Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA).
"Seven out of every 10 census tracts are considered affordable when you look at housing costs alone, but only about two out of every 10 census tracts would be considered affordable when transportation cost are included as well," said Muhammad Yadudu, research advisor and author of THDA's Transportation as a Key to Housing Affordability Issue Brief.
The effect is especially pronounced in rural areas of Tennessee and among low- to moderate-income households, according to the report.
The THDA Issue Brief explores a new definition of a "cost-burdened household" that includes monthly transportation costs in addition to monthly housing costs, as is recommended by the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), a Chicago-based nonprofit focused on creating economically sustainable communities.
Under this model, the number of Tennessee census tracts where regionally typical households are cost burdened changes dramatically, from about 30 percent of the state to about 80 percent.
"A large number of areas currently deemed affordable to a regionally typical resident are not when viewed in the context of both housing and transportation expenses," Mr. Yadudu said.
The new standard, as proposed by CNT and used by THDA in this report, considers a household to be "cost burdened" if it spends more than 45 percent of household income toward housing and transportation costs together. By the current standard, a household is considered "cost burdened" if it spends more than 30 percent of its total income toward housing costs alone.
"In rural areas of Tennessee, transportation costs actually eat up a larger percentage of the household budget on average than housing costs do," said Mr. Yadudu. "Therefore, you see a large swing in rural areas when you include transportation costs."
The report also find that median commuting times in the state have increased by 1.2 minutes over the past six years, translating into a loss of 15 million hours of productivity a year.
"Transportation expenses have a big impact on low- to moderate-income families due to a greater scarcity of employment opportunities where they reside. This has important implications for housing and transportation policies that seek to improve access to affordable housing, as several traditional middle class households will be considered housing cost burdened when transportation cost is added to the determination of housing affordability," said Mr. Yadudu.
Further, the report notes that income in Nashville is rising more slowly (+7.5 percent from 2010 to 2015) than rent is increasing (+20 percent). As a result, "challenges to housing affordability are starting to exert pressure on the finances of traditionally middle class households. For instance, firefighters ($40,410), police officers ($47,110), office and administrative support occupations ($36,810), and medical assistants ($33,400) will not earn enough to be immune from being considered housing cost burdened," states the report.
The report includes descriptions of policy solutions implemented in other cities facing similar circumstances, including Transit Oriented Development (TOD) in Austin and Denver, housing and transportation agency partnerships in Atlanta, and improved "last mile" options in Atlanta and Dallas.
The full report can be found on the Issue Brief page in the Research & Planning section of

Teresa Groves Earns Seniors Real Estate Specialist Designation

Teresa Groves, with Real Estate Partners Chattanooga LLC, has earned the nationally recognized Seniors Real Estate Specialist® designation from the Seniors Real Estate Specialist Council of the National Association of Realtors.  Ms. Groves joins more than 15,000 real estate professionals in North America who have earned the SRES designation.  All were required to successfully ... (click for more)

City View Apartments On Citico Avenue Sell For $6.5 Million

The City View Apartments have sold for $6.5 million. The complex is at 2709 Citico Ave. The sale was to Greenleaf Investment Partners L044 Llc, Greenleaf Investment Partners R044 Llc, City View Llc from City View Apartment Company. (click for more)

Driver Will Not Be Charged In Death Of Pedestrian In Dalton Last Thursday

The Dalton Police Department will not be filing criminal charges against a driver involved in a crash last week that killed a pedestrian who was attempting to cross Chattanooga Road near the intersection with Tibbs Road. The investigation into the incident showed that the victim was heavily intoxicated at the time of the crash, police said. The  crash happened around  ... (click for more)

Former Juvenile Court Magistrate Says Gay Marriage Is "Nothing You Put In Air Quotes"

A former magistrate at Juvenile Court, who claims she was fired by Judge Rob Philyaw because she is openly gay, said Wednesday that gay marriage "is nothing you put in air quotes." She referred to County Attorney Rheubin Taylor asking her about her ceremony in marrying another woman and raising his hands to form quote marks. Elizabeth Gentzler is suing Hamilton County, Judge ... (click for more)

Avoid Underage Drinking And Other Prom Drama

My high school prom took a dramatic turn when two guys got their tuxedo jackets mixed up. One of them belonged to my date, who kindly offered to keep my wallet in his pocket. That’s the jacket another young man mistakenly grabbed off the back of a chair before heading to an underage drinking party that got shut down by police well after midnight—as kids scattered in every direction.  ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Sheriff’s Request

Jim Hammond will talk to members of the Hamilton County School Board on Thursday afternoon and, just like any police officer in the United States, he will request that everybody “stay in their own lane.” Some school board members tend to believe they need to help decide the best methods of protecting our children. They believe this is one of the things they were elected to do in ... (click for more)