How Affordable is HUD Affordable Housing?

Reid Ewing, University of Utah


This paper assesses the affordability of HUD rental assistance properties from the standpoint of transportation costs. HUD housing is, by definition, affordable from the standpoint of housing costs due to limits on the amounts renters are required to pay. However, there are no such limitations on transportation costs, and common sense suggests that renters in remote locations may be forced to pay more than 15 percent of income, a nominal affordability standard, for transportation costs. Using household travel models estimated with data from 15 diverse regions around the U.S., we estimated and summed automobile capital costs, automobile operating costs, and transit fare costs for households at more than 18,000 HUD rental assistance properties. The mean percentage of income expended on transportation is 15 percent for households at the high end of the eligible income scale. However, in highly sprawling metropolitan areas, and in suburban areas of more compact metropolitan areas, much higher percentages of households exceed the 15 percent threshold. This suggests that locational characteristics of properties should be considered by HUD when establishing eligibility for rental assistance subsidies.

Project Details

Project Type:
Project Status:
End Date:
June 30,2015
UTC Grant Cycle:
Tier 1 Round 2
UTC Funding:

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