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A Spatial Analysis of Housing and Transportation Affordability in Los Angeles County

PI: Salon
Funder: UCTC

Increases in fuel prices, combined with the deep downturn in the economy, have raised concerns about the burdens of transportation costs on low-income families. We investigate this issue, focusing specifically on neighborhood variation in the percentage of household incomes spent on housing and transportation. We hypothesize that the phrase "drive 'til you qualify" (for a mortgage) has some truth; poor and moderate- income households living in suburban areas—particularly inner-ring suburbs—will pay less for housing, but more for transportation than households living in wealthy suburban neighborhoods or in central-city neighborhoods well served by public transit.

We are working to test this hypothesis using individual data on vehicle miles traveled, vehicle type and fuel efficiency, and housing costs. Specifically, we are combining property-level housing data, vehicle-specific fuel use information, and block-group demographic data for households in Los Angeles County. We will be examining spatial variation in housing-transport costs relative to income. We then will analyze how neighborhood affordability has evolved since 2000, a period in which gas prices rose significantly. Finally, we will assess whether there is a relationship between neighborhood income levels and changes in vehicle miles traveled and the fuel economy of neighborhood vehicles.

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