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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Spatial Dilemma of Sustainable Transportation and Just Affordable Housing: Part II, Low-income Housing Tax Credits

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This study examines the spatial distribution of Low-income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) units to understand whether geographic patterns and trends are consistent with climate change and equity goals. The analysis compares the location of LIHTC units in 2012 and net changes from 2012 to 2019 with a number of transportation, environmental, and racial and economic equity metrics. Unit locations are, at best, somewhat more sustainable than the state overall, with slightly lower-skewing vehicle miles traveled and better walkability, though low transit accessibility. What environmental gains there were, though, come at the cost of higher exposure to pollution. LIHTC units are also concentrated in disproportionately low-income neighborhoods and neighborhoods of color, with worse access to economic opportunity. The findings reveal an inherent structural dilemma in whether the LIHTC program is able to simultaneously achieve climate and equity goals.

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