Sunday, October 04, 2015

Affordability sense and nonsense, 45N update, MaX Lanes adopted, and more

Another week, another BS to call.  This time on this study claiming Houston is not affordable compared to cities like Philly, Chicago, and even NYC! (Chronicle story)  And yet you wonder why Philly and Chicago are losing population, and people flee NYC because of the cost of living? Maybe there's a flaw in this ranking? I'd say it's mostly this: if you live in an expensive city (including taxes), then you naturally have less of your income left over to spend on housing and transportation. It's not because these cities are affordable, but because you're forced to live frugally. You live in affordable Houston (albeit admittedly less so the last few years), and you get to spend more on those, which makes your city look expensive by these rankings!  See the confused irony of using income percentage as an affordability indicator?  This kind of affordability ranking is specifically designed to make expensive transit-dependent cities look better, and it gets fully debunked here.

Moving on to this week's items:
Finally, check out this excellent piece by Laolu Davies-Yemitan on Maintaining Houston’s Affordability for Working Class Families (PDF version).  Houston is naturally a reasonably affordable city, but that's becoming less and less true in core urban neighborhoods, and there's more the City can do to encourage more affordable workforce housing in good core neighborhoods.

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