Tuesday, May 25, 2010

MPAC Wednesday Transportation Plan Recommendation: Metro Staff Rejects My Comments, Continue to Obscure Housing/Trans Affordability Goal.

Despite my best efforts to identify the problems associated with Metro's use of a locally developed transportation/housing affordability index , instead of the national H+T index, Metro staff continues to reject use of the H+T index now available for 330 metro areas.

I have extracted from the Metro staff summary of comments on the Transportation plan the staff reaction to my suggestions into a single document HERE (similar comments were also made by Cathy Briggs from Oregon ON).

Metro : 2005 Benchmark Portland Metro Median Spending on Housing /Transportation Was 45%; Lets Adopt a New Standard of 50% That is 13%+ Higher than the Actual 2005 Level.
Metro also insists on using an acceptable housing/ transportation affordability level of 50% of income EVEN though the benchmark level for the region was 44% in 2005, and even though the H+T index uses a 45% of income standard. WHY Metro would use a future standard that would permit a HIGHER share of income to be spent on housing and transportation is beyond me. Their explanation:
Metro chose 50% of income because the 2007 national median share of household income spent on housing and transportation was 45%, and it seemed to be more meaningful to choose a threshold that was higher than the median.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Use of a 50% housing/transportation measure for affordability would represent a 13.6% INCREASE in income that households could spend on housing/transportation compared to the ACTUAL Metro Portland median expenditure in 2005 and still be consider "affordable" according to Metro's definition.(50%/44%-1=13.6%)

After reading Metro staff comments 
1. It seems clear that there will NOT be any LOCAL targets for affordability,only a single regional goal.
2. Is is STILL not clear what the REGIONAL Goal IS . The current target shown in Table 2.3 of the RTP says "By 2035, reduce the average household combined cost of housing and transportation by 25 percent compared to 2000" and there is nothing I see in the Metro staff comments that CHANGES this other than including a benchmark showing the actual percentage in 2005 was 44%. (see my comment 205 HERE to see the two contradictory Metro affordability goals in the RTP).

Metro's meeting is Wednesday May 26th at 5 PM, and the agenda packet for this meeting is HERE

Because I plan to be in Salem for some meetings tomorrow I likely will not be able to attend the MPAC meeting. IF anyone attends the key questions are:
  1. WHAT IS the the regional housing/transportation affordability goal that is being recommended?
  2. Why should the region adopt a 50% of income definition of housing/transportation affordability that is 13.6% HIGHER than the 2005 regional benchmark expenditure of 44%?
  3. Why can't Metro use the H+T index?

Originally created and posted on the Oregon Housing Blog.

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