The Spatial Dilemma of Sustainable Transportation and Just Affordable Housing

Research Team: Paul Ong (lead), Chhandara Pech, Tiffany Green, Allie Padgett, Anne Yoon, and Jacob Wasserman

UC Campus(es): UCLA

Problem Statement: Siting subsidized affordable housing in dense urban areas near transit can help the state meet its environmental goals by reducing vehicle travel and lowering the amount of vehicle miles traveled (VMT). However, more information is needed on exactly how best to allocate housing subsidies that both improve access to economic and educational opportunities for underrepresented groups, and improve mobility throughout the state more broadly while reducing VMT.

Project Description: In the face of rising housing prices, publicly subsidized affordable housing plays an important role in housing low-income and other vulnerable Californians. This project examines two major types of subsidized affordabable housing: Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV), also known as “Section 8”, and Low-income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) housing projects. The project examines the spatial distribution of units where Housing Choice Vouchers are used and where LIHTC family units are located to determine whether recent geographic patterns and trends are consistent with climate change and equity goals. These findings, taken together, reveal a major policy dilemma for the location of affordable housing. Shifting the location of affordable housing to more sustainable and lower-VMT neighborhoods consequently decreases access to employment opportunities, exacerbates racial segregation, and increases health risks. This reality creates a major challenge to the state and local governments as they struggle to address climate change and promote more racial and economic equity and fairness. As California continues to experience a growing housing crisis and the demand for affordable housing continues to rise, resolving this dilemma will be essential. There are partial solutions that can marginally reduce the tradeoff, but real change will require rectifying deeply embedded systemic inequality.

Status: Completed

Budget: $74,982

Project Partner(s): California Air Resources Board