How Affordable Is HUD Affordable Housing?

Shima Hamidi, Reid Ewing, John Renne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


This article assesses the affordability of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rental assistance properties from the perspective of transportation costs. HUD housing is, by definition, affordable from the standpoint of housing costs due to limits on the amounts renters are required to pay. However, there are no such limitations on transportation costs, and common sense suggests that renters in remote locations may be forced to pay more than 15% of income, a nominal affordability standard, for transportation costs. Using household travel models estimated with data from 15 diverse regions around the United States, we estimated and summed automobile capital costs, automobile operating costs, and transit fare costs for households at 8,857 HUD rental assistance properties. The mean percentage of income expended on transportation is 15% for households at the high end of the eligible income scale. However, in highly sprawling metropolitan areas, and in suburban areas of more compact metropolitan areas, much higher percentages of households exceed the 15% ceiling. This suggests that locational characteristics of properties should be considered for renewal when HUD contracts expire for these properties, based on location and hence on transportation affordability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-455
Number of pages19
JournalHousing Policy Debate
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 3 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Affordable housing
  • HUD rental assistance program
  • affordability
  • transportation costs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Urban Studies
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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