Housing Affordability

The Housing Affordability Challenge

Access to high quality, workforce housing in neighborhoods of choice remains a critical challenge in many U.S. communities. This is especially acute in high cost markets that need a greater supply of workforce housing near transit and employment centers.

To shed light on this issue, the Terwilliger Center engaged in a research effort resulting in six reports and an online tool design to explore the challenges of housing affordability, the combined burden of housing and transportation costs, and how regions are effectively pricing out those earning between 60 and 120 percent of area median income (AMI). While the research focused on just three high-cost markets—Boston, San Francisco, and Washington, DC—the workforce housing challenges outlined as well as the lessons learned apply to a broader range of communities.

Understanding Housing and Transportation Costs

Published in 2009 and 2010, the Terwilliger Center published a series of three reports to examine the combined burden of housing and transportation costs in three high cost housing markets.  The reports, and the related online calculator, look not only at the effects of a tight housing market for workforce households, but also the related high transportation costs for workforce households in the Boston Metropolitan Area; Metropolitan Washington, DC; and the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Workforce Housing in High Cost Markets

Priced Out is a series of three reports published by the Terwilliger Center in 2009 and 2010. The reports examine metropolitan marketplaces whose high cost of housing significantly constrains the residential mobility of households earning between 60 and 120 percent of AMI.  In housing markets including Boston,  San Francisco, and Washington, DC, high land prices, high demand, and exclusionary zoning practices often conspire to effectively “price out” workforce households.  The challenge is especially acute near transit and employment nodes.

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