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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Effect that State and Federal Housing Policies Have on Vehicle Miles of Travel


This report examines the ability of existing and proposed affordable housing policies to align with sustainable transportation goals in California. First, the authors compare the ability of Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), Redevelopment and inclusionary funded projects to locate in neighborhoods with transit access to employment versus market rate production in the same period. The authors find tax credit funded units outperform market rate production with respect to job accessibility via transit, and the authors attribute this to the scoring criteria of California’s tax credit allocating body, the Tax Credit Allocation Committee (TCAC). However, the authors find this may have come at the cost of concentrating new affordable housing in areas with higher poverty rates. At the federal level, the authors measure how a change in the determination of maximum payouts for Section 8 housing vouchers, known as Fair Market Rents (FMRs), alters the ability of voucher holders to access transit and jobs rich neighborhoods. The results show that changing to “Small Area” FMRs, which are determined at the ZIP code scale, dramatically improves voucher holders’ access to jobs rich neighborhoods. This benefit comes at the cost of nearly eliminating voucher accessibility in neighborhoods that are currently accessible. And finally, at the state level, an analysis is conducted to determine if California’s emphasis on promoting affordable housing in transit and jobs rich neighborhoods is increasing the cost of affordable housing development. The modeling results indicate that affordable housing near transit stops is not significantly more expensive, but that costs increase slightly for projects in jobs rich neighborhoods. Participation in the state’s Transit Oriented Development (TOD) housing program does not significantly impact costs. The results of this research are intended to inform policy makers at every level of government on how best to continue to integrate transportation and housing policies without sacrificing the primary purpose of affordable housing policies: to house people.

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