New tool reveals combined costs of housing and transportation in regions across the country

Housing and transportation costs nationwide

How much does housing and transportation cost your family each month? These two items are typically a family’s largest expenses. Together they take up almost half of the average household’s budget, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). How does your family’s housing and transportation costs compare to the rest of the region? And how would living in a different neighborhood or commuting in different ways affect your monthly budget? A new tool is designed to help you find out.

Mayor John Engen on affordable housing in Missoula, MT

Missoula, Montana passed an affordable housing ordinance to build a community where residents of all income levels can live, work, and play together. Mayor John Engen talks about the importance of building affordable housing for any community. See more video interviews with Local Leaders here >>

Councilmember Michael DeMarco has a plan to keep the City of Fairfax, VA competitive in its region

Fairfax VA
Old Town Fairfax, VA. Photo by Brandon Wu via Flickr.

City Councilmember Michael DeMarco may just be in his first term of elected office, but he has a strong vision for the future of the City of Fairfax, VA.

As the previous Chair of the city’s Economic Development Authority, DeMarco is focused on smart growth and development for his city of 6.3 square miles and just under 25,000 residents. Fairfax is located in Northern Virginia and part of the growing greater Washington, DC metro region. “It’s not a question of when we will grow,” says DeMarco. “It’s a question of how we will grow.”

Mayor Dayne Walling on Flint, MI's new comprehensive plan

Flint, MI
Residents of Flint, MI, at one of the many community meetings that informed the city’s new comprehensive plan. Image via Imagine Flint.

The last time Flint, Michigan approved a master plan for the city’s development, Dwight Eisenhower was president and the city’s population was nearly double what it is today. Now, for the first time in over 50 years, Flint has a comprehensive plan to guide future growth that accurately reflects the opportunities and challenges facing the city today.

The city of Flint was a 20th century boomtown, but decades of job losses, disinvestment and population decline took a hard toll on the community. Flint mayor Dayne Walling, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, knew the city needed a new comprehensive plan that would update city policies and guide future public investments in a way that acknowledged these changes.

Mayor Jonathan Rothschild on the revival of downtown Tucson, AZ

The Sun Link streetcar line is a catalyst for investment in downtown Tucson. Photo via the City of Tucson.
The Sun Link streetcar line is a catalyst for investment in downtown Tucson. Photo via the City of Tucson.

Downtown Tucson, AZ is undergoing a revival, and smart growth strategies are a major factor behind it according to Mayor Jonathan Rothschild.

Rothschild, a native Tucsonan and a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, has experienced firsthand the rapid growth of greater Tucson over the past 50 years. “When I was born, there were 50,000 people in this community. Today there are over one million. We’ve grown at a remarkable rate,” says Rothschild.

Councilmember Hans Riemer on the challenge of creating attractive urban areas in Montgomery County, MD

Rockville Town Square
Rockville Town Square, in Councilmember Riemer’s district of Montgomery County, MD. Photo by Dan Reed via Flickr.

Councilmember Hans Riemer has a problem. Residents of the greater Washington, DC metro area increasingly want to live in attractive, high quality, urban neighborhoods—but there aren’t enough of those neighborhoods in his home district of Montgomery County, MD, to meet the demand.

“Cities are reviving and becoming incredibly attractive places to live,” says Riemer, a charter member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council. “We’re seeing the impacts of that in Montgomery County. Where people used to prefer the suburbs, they now want to live in cities.”

Rethink Real Estate: Reform the Federal Housing Administration’s Single Family Home Program

HUD Headquarters in Washington, DC
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development headquarters in Washington DC. Photo by Ryan Orr via Flickr.

This is the second in a series of posts discussing recommendations from our new platform Federal Investment in Real Estate: A Call for Action. The series highlights what is lacking in current federal real estate policy and how our recommended improvements could generate better returns for families, communities and taxpayers.

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has helped millions of families purchase their homes, and ensures mortgages are widely available during times of economic distress when banks and other financial institutions tighten lending standards. As the housing market rebounds, however, it’s time to refocus this program on its original mission.

Join LOCUS in Seattle next month at ULI's annual housing conference

The Urban Land Institute (ULI)’s annual housing conference brings together housing professionals from across the country to discuss current challenges and opportunities for supporting a full spectrum of housing choices in cities and suburbs increasingly challenged by the new economy.

Joining the discussion at this year’s conference is LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors. LOCUS Managing Director Christopher Coes and Steering Committee member John Hempelmann, of Seattle-based business law firm Cairncross & Hempelmann, will join a panel discussion at the conference about federal involvement in real estate and how it might be reformed.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick introduces new workforce housing initiatives, adopts GICD recommendations

The following is crossposted from the Governors’ Institute on Community Design.

In July 2012, the Governors’ Institute on Community Design met with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and his Administration to identify policies and tool to meet the State’s housing needs. Last week, Governor Patrick announced an ambitious housing policy initiative that builds on those strategies.