Earlier this week, the White House released a Housing Development Toolkit with recommendations that are supposed to spur more affordable housing development.
Exciting for me is that the White House says: “smart housing regulation optimizes transportation system use, reduces commute times, and increases use of public transit, biking and walking.” Yes! In lay-person-speak, the White house is saying that housing should be located near transit (sounds like a “duh” moment, but just think about how many new housing developments are built wayyyy out in suburban and rural areas instead of in transit-served locations).
Another thing that I love about the toolkit is that it makes explicit the link between multi-family housing and walkability. How are the two connected, you ask? Well, single-family housing is less dense, so destinations are farther apart. Taking an extremely reductive personal example: when I was growing up in New Jersey, I could walk to my friend AG’s house which was across the street and 3 houses down, and it probably took me a few minutes. But when I lived in an apartment in Virginia, walking to see my friend KF in my building meant a 30-second walk, tops. Extrapolate this to a city-wide level and clearly the denser we can build, the more walkable things will be.
The last thing about this toolkit that I love is the recommendation to eliminate off-street parking requirements. Parking can cost $5,000 per surface spot and $60,000 per underground spot to construct. These costs are, of course, passed along to the residents whether they own a car or not, and they reduce housing affordability.
Streetsblog also has a great summary of the White House’s recommendations if you’re interested in reading more.
Thanks, Obama! (But really).