Low-wage Jobs-housing Fit: Identifying Locations of Affordable Housing Shortages
Authors: Chris Benner and Alex Karner
Finding the right jobs-housing balance has long been an important concern for urban planners. More recently, attention has turned to jobs-housing fit – the extent to which housing price is well matched to local job quality. Prior analyses have been constrained by a lack of local data on job quality, making it difficult to identify the geography and scale of the problem. We introduce a new methodology for calculating the low-wage jobs-housing fit at both a jurisdiction and neighborhood scale that was designed in collaboration with affordable housing advocates and has been directly applied in urban planning and affordable housing policy efforts. Low-wage fit is particularly important because of ongoing difficulties with affordable housing provision and the disproportionate benefits of reducing transportation costs for low-income earners. We use the calculated metric at both a city and neighborhood scale to identify what can be learned from a low-wage jobs-housing fit metric that is not evident in traditional measures of jobs-housing balance. In contrast to jobs-housing balance, the low-wage fit analysis clearly highlights those jurisdictions and neighborhoods where there is a substantial shortage of affordable housing in relation to the number of low-wage jobs. Because of the geographic coverage of the data sources used, the results can be widely applied across the United States by affordable housing advocates, land-use planners, and policy makers.