July 27, 2016

Mobility Impacts Mobility: Linking Housing, Transit, and Jobs


By Rachel Reilly Carroll, Enterprise Community Loan Fund

Mobility Impacts Mobility: Linking Housing, Transportation, and Jobs

I’m about to embark on the trip of a lifetime: seven days aboard a vintage train, crossing the country with the Millennial Trains Project to talk with leaders in five cities about the intersection of housing and transportation.

So, how did you get to work today? I will be asking this question across America because it illustrates how the link between housing and transportation can impact job opportunities and upward mobility.

Housing and transportation costs are the top two expenses for American households. When you can easily walk, bike, or take public transit to get to work, pick up groceries, and pick up your child from day care, you are able to save time and money on every-day activities. But oftentimes walkable, bikeable, transit-rich neighborhoods are the most expensive places to live, and those who can’t afford to live there will face long commutes, increased transit costs, and less time with their families. This limits job opportunities, diminishes quality of life and negatively impacts the potential for upward economic mobility.

Voters Are Focused on Housing and Public Transit in 2016

One in four renters spend more than half their income on rent in cities and towns throughout the nation. Our rental housing crisis has become so prevalent that recent polling shows 76 percent of voters want housing to be a key priority in the 2016 Presidential election. Expanding public transit is a priority for voters; multiple public transit measures are already on ballots nationwide this year. Since 2000, transportation measures have been included on ballots in 41 states, and have had a 71 percent success rate often resulting in funding to expand and improve public transit.


Is Transit Access a Matter of Civil Rights?

Affordable access to quality public transit can connect residents to employment and education opportunities that facilitate upward mobility, and increasingly, researchers are viewing transportation as a determinate in socio-economic outcomes and access to opportunity. Access to transit is often inequitable. Particularly in cities with smaller transit systems, the benefits of reliable, high-quality public transit do not accrue to everyone equally. Where and how cities choose to expand transit service may be a matter of civil rights, especially if those investments increase economic disparities of residents.

Where You Can Afford To Live Impacts Your Job Opportunities

This is why I’m focusing on how cities invest in expanded transit access and whether they’ve prioritized affordable housing policies which ensure that everyone can benefit from increased mobility and economic growth.

Are you paying too much for housing and transportation costs? Find out with the Center for Neighborhood Technologies’ Housing + Transportation Affordability Index.

Follow Along With Me

Follow along as I post blog updates on Housing Horizons. You can also keep up with my trip on Instagram and Twitter at @RachelReillyC, @MakeRoomUSA and @MillenialTrain.