The Importance of Providing Housing Options Close to Jobs

September 25, 2015 | by Michael Wilt

Categories: Homeownership, Housing Matters

Last month, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute and INRIX, Inc. released their Urban Mobility Scorecard, a national report that painted a sobering picture for many Texas cities. Four Texas metro areas ranked in the top 50 for having the most congested roadways: Houston (8th), Dallas (11th), Austin (12th), and San Antonio (33rd).

Traffic delays cost commuters money. For example, in Austin, the average commuter experiences 52 hours of delays at a cost of $17.67 per hour or $1,159 a year. The value of each hour includes excess fuel consumption while idling in traffic, potential lost income, and incurred costs from delays like additional child care. (Click here for a detailed explanation of the methodology behind the calculations).

As the price of housing continues to rise in the downtown areas and surrounding neighborhoods of Texas cities, this pushes low and moderate income families to more affordable suburbs but often further from where employers are located. State demographer Lloyd Potter commented on this in a recent Texas Tribune article referring to suburban communities as "bedroom villages" for big cities.

That same article details where commuters are coming from to get to work in Texas' biggest cities. Looking at the Austin (Travis County) example again, nearly 45 percent of workers in Bastrop and Williamson counties commute into Travis County. A staggering 94,930 Williamson County residents drive south to Travis County for work. The sheer volume of commuters leaves little doubt why roadways are beyond capacity and congestion remains a dire problem that is getting worse.

Reducing commute times and addressing congestion relief long term will require large infrastructure investments and multiple tactics. One solution, included in the Urban Mobility Scorecard report, is to "diversify the development patterns by encouraging a range of housing types, close to a range of job opportunities, close to transit options."

This drives home the larger point that the location of housing can be as important as the price of housing. For home buyers looking to move closer to work, we provide down payment assistance to give individuals and families more buying power as they search for a home closer to work.

On the House blog posts are meant to provide general information on various housing-related issues, research and programs. We are not liable for any errors or inaccuracies in the information provided by blog sources. Furthermore, this blog is not legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed professional attorney.

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