(Unedited) Podcast Transcript 313: Location Does Matter

December 9, 2020

This week on the Talking Headways podcast we’re joined by Carrie Makarewicz, Associate Professor at the University of Colorado at Denver, Prentiss Dantzler, Assistant Professor at Georgia State University, and Arlie Adkins, Associate Professor at The University of Arizona to talk about their paper in Housing Policy Debate:  Another Look at Location Affordability: Understanding the Detailed Effects of Income and Urban Form on Housing and Transportation Expenditures.

Skip below the fold the see the (unedited) transcript.

 

1 (1m 32s):
Carrie Makarewicz, Prentiss Dantzler and Arlie Adkins welcome to the Talking Headways Podcast

Carrie M (1m 38s):
Thanks for having us.

Jeff Wood (1m 39s):
Thanks for being here before we get started. Can you tell, tell us a little bit about yourself? So we’ll start with Carrie and we’ll go with Prentiss and then Arlie

Carrie M (1m 46s):
Planning professor at the university of Colorado Denver, and I’ve been here a little over seven years before that I worked at the center for neighborhood technology. Transportation Affordability

Prentiss Dantzler (2m 1s):
I am a current assistant professor at urban studies Institute at Georgia state here in Atlanta, before this, I was in a sociology professor at Colorado college, and most of my work focuses on a housing affordability and a residential mobility issues.

Arlie Adkins (2m 15s):
And I’m, Arlie, Adkins, I’m an associate professor of urban planning at the university of Arizona. I also have an appointment in the college of public health, and my research primarily focuses on looking at health and safety disparities of transportation systems.

Jeff Wood (2m 33s):
Nice. So I want to kind of a dive in a little bit more too, you all personally, in terms of like what got you into Transportation and what got you in the cities overall before You, you know, you went to school and started researching.

Arlie Adkins (2m 44s):
So when I graduated from, from College, one of our graduation speaker at the university of Oregon was an urban planner. And I remember sitting there thinking, wow, why didn’t I know that this was a thing for my four years of undergraduate and then sort of slowly after college moved my way Transportation and Planning. And they ended up I’m working for TriMet in Portland, the transit agency there, and then doing a lot of work with planning and community affairs and decided I wanted to kind of take that into, in a different direction than went to UC Berkeley for a masters degree. And that’s where I met Carrie when she was doing her PhD there. And really, you know, it, wasn’t planning on doing this, but really kind of caught the research bug there and decided that a lot of the questions and concerns that I’d had when I was working in the transit agency really needed some sort of different ways of looking at things that Research was really suited to, trying to unpack.

Arlie Adkins (3m 35s):
And so that’s what I’ve been doing ever since

Prentiss Dantzler (3m 37s):
Originally started out in graduate school as a Housing scholar. Most of my work has really kind of been looking at social welfare programs, an impact on changing communities that are also changing neighborhoods. So for me, housing has been in kind of the center or by which I can understand other issues. And more recently I have been branching out and kind of Understanding other Affordability issues for people in their homes, in their neighborhoods. So this lead, it led to a kind of think about Transportation policy, but also, and working with some of the people around Energy costs as well. So it really thinking about the different ways where families are really kind of undergoing different causes of a cost burdens at the household level and meet it and carry a few years ago or less that five years ago at this point, really thinking through some of the issues, there are a colleague and jumped up the chance to work with her in Arlie as well.

Prentiss Dantzler (4m 26s):
So it has been a great experience of the, kind of think about the role of housing, but it kind of connections as to the transportation and other cost burdens for families.

Carrie M (4m 34s):
I been interested in cities for as long as I can remember. I grew up in Michigan and the seventies and eighties, you know, the abreast belt city. And I just remember we are going to visit my relatives in Detroit, out the window and seeing Urban decline. And each year it got worse. I heard for years, what costs did that and what can be done to reverse the shuttered factories and the abandoned homes or infrastructure. So I studied your community and economic development and my masters program and Planning cause it was like Arlie, it took me awhile to find out that there’s a whole field that Study studies that had actually studied business undergrad thinking that is what I saw was the shuttered factories.

Carrie M (5m 16s):
And the solution is to help these businesses to recover, not realizing that, you know, the business world there isn’t as focused on that as the urban studies world is. So for me, Transportation really is a subset of community and economic development and wellbeing of individuals, you know, like are like Prentiss he was describing as a factor of, of an important factor of light. And so that people don’t have good Transportation I’ll types of Transportation that it really effects their job opportunities, where they can live on what their kids can get access to. And that’s something that comes up in the paper to a certain extent. And we’ll get into that. I guess we should just kind of jump in as, as it were.

Jeff Wood (5m 54s):
So I want to talk with you guys about your paper Another Look at Location Understanding the Detailed Effects of Income and Urban Form on Housing and Transportation, Expenditures, I’m curious what the impetus was for writing this piece.

Carrie M (6m 5s):
So it actually wanted to use the PSI D for a long time in the Panel study that we used, I have a friend who I had met at Michigan for undergrad, and he did his PhD on consumer expenditure patterns. And when I had to do a pH D in that field, worked with the federal reserve and, and I was talking to him about the housing and transportation Affordability and he said that you have to use the panel study of income dynamics as the data that I use. And you’ll see all of these people’s transportation and housing Expenditures well, then Mike smart. And they looked at the data for Location Affordability. And when I read their paper, I feel like they were missing something.

Carrie M (6m 48s):
And when they found that there was a little to no, a fact of the urban Form household Expenditures, and that’s a Prentiss note that we had met you in a mutual friend who are both in Denver. We were at the Urban affairs association conference, and we told them I really want to do this kind of a response. And given his Housing expertise as a statistical analysis and has an interest in other households Expenditures it was a perfect fit. And then we also brought in Arlie because Arlie and I have been working together on Transportation papers.

Arlie Adkins (7m 18s):
Yeah. I would just add that, you know, when Carrie started telling me about this project that she was in the Prentiss, I just got excited that They were looking into this. So probably Sort of a, I don’t know, invited myself to the party, so to speak, but it just really, really excited,

Carrie M (7m 32s):
But this was something they want to do to dig into. So I think we all have had a similar reaction to reading, reading the paper from Martin client that was somewhat reacting. I was just going to say that you’re Arlie has written on a Location affordability index that HUD developed and was in the special issue of Housing policy debate because of his work there and was also a reference, you looked at housing voucher holders important and how the transportation costs affected where they live and how they helped them with their Housing class or not. Yeah, that was just going to throw it off of there for a little bit is just think about this other piece. They’re a lot of times where we have these studies, there is like kind of a strong policy implications for this type of work.

Carrie M (8m 13s):
So part of that kind of speaking to this more inclined paper, but it also kind of building off of their analysis, get us to create some more nuances in terms of what the policy implications can actually be. I mean, it also think about what sub-groups are we talking about when we are doing these studies as well? So the beauty of the PIs, how do you have used it multiple times at this point, I was going to get some great Detailed information, but there’s also some nuances that, or not captured in here. And so are you using that with, as opposed to the index was a really interesting, they kind of think about Transportation or Affordability, but Expenditures in a different way outside of one particular space.

Jeff Wood (8m 46s):
So I remember when the LEHD data that came out and I was really excited about that. It sounds like this is another dataset that we nerds can get excited about, but it’s kind of limited. Can you tell me a little about the background of the dataset

Carrie M (8m 56s):
And how hard it is or easy it is to access it? Yeah, I should add that to the other reason why Prentiss was a perfect fit for this paper and I, that I wrote in it because he has used the PSID for his dissertation. And you knew it really well. It was a bit of a hurdle. Do you use this data is produced by the university of Michigan, as we can go over on the paper, it’s been the longest running a longitudinal sample of households and the world we been doing it since the 1969, so that you have to purchase it and you have to work on the data. And we signed several forms and a contract with the university has to approve. They use of it and your computer. It has to be configured correctly so that you can dial in to the secure enclave and then you have to purchase.

Carrie M (9m 41s):
If you wanna get down to the block group level, you have to purchase additional protected data sets in Prentiss do you want to add anything else?

Prentiss Dantzler (9m 49s):
The only other piece about it is that it was a annually run survey up until I believe in 1997. And, and they went to buy annually because of the timeframe of which are used in a day that we have some kind of great insights in terms of like what we could use from it and what we could do. But the other piece is that a, you know, with any kinds of longitudinal survey, you are getting a lot of characteristics, but some of them are not available in certain years versus others, right. So and starting years. And they asked like, really an interesting question is like about your mobility plans or intentions and you know, other years they don’t. So part of it was to kind of get a, a fine granular level of data. It’s a merge with a CNC data, or are we supposed to the index to really get to some of the nuances of a Transportation Expenditures?

Arlie Adkins (10m 30s):
And one of the amazing things about PSID is, is that we’re often trying to either make assumptions or model the data that is actually there for us in PSID. And I think that’s one of the reasons that it has started to become used more for this kind of work, despite, you know, it’s a limitation, that’s not, you know, it’s, the sample is large, but when you start slicing and dicing into smaller categories that are looking at a small geographies, when you do have some limitations, but just the data itself has actually what we’re interested in, rather than trying to work backwards into competing the data from other sources,

Carrie M (11m 7s):
if there is a really rich set of questions that they ask each household, that, of course it’s like all the data sets. If you do get a lot of blank fields. And the other nice thing is that they work really hard to make a representative of the entire us and Puerto Rico. So you have all 50 States, every major city, as well as rural areas, micropolitan major MSA. So we do a pretty thrilled comparison of households and the PA DSID compared to households the entire us. It’s not a perfect data set, just Study very urban areas, especially in the diversity of households in urban areas. If you don’t need to do a better sampling, I’m more of a homeowner types, brought a range of household sizes, definitely more households of lower and moderate incomes and urban areas.

Carrie M (11m 54s):
And then also have ethnic diversity, particularly in Urban and what we call Urban. So like the older, suburban area.

Jeff Wood (12m 5s):
Yeah. That was an interesting part is that you all broke out the data into seemingly for a different kind of geographic designations Urban mid, urban, suburban, and then a more rural areas. And then you also found that the data set is also has less Urban representation. I’m curious if there’s any way to, to like, fix that. I mean, it’s a study that’s been going on for so long. It’s hard to get back in time to necessarily get people from urban areas from that time period of 1960, as a long, long time ago.

Carrie M (12m 30s):
I’m not sure how to fix their sampling except for, I think you’re required to send them any publication you, right. So it would be interesting to follow up with ’cause we’re all always enrolling new households and rightly so, they probably realize that at some point that you know, much of America limbs in these more distant suburbs outside of the Centre cities and that they need it to make sure that they were looking at the households. But in doing that, perhaps they started at reducing are sampling and you have more urban urban areas, or maybe it’s harder to get the respondent’s in those areas. I also don’t think that they, you know, this is this kind of a unique geographical grouping that we came up with and there are probably not looking at it like that.

Carrie M (13m 16s):
And they said it, you need the proportion from the center city. However, they define that how it would be more selective, a municipal work, how many level. And then we meet to make sure that we get a sampling and the rest of the families. And if you need that, proportionally them, maybe they looked, maybe they are sampling, it looks correct to them by the urban green and form of a place. Then you see this over a suburban in suburban.

Jeff Wood (13m 43s):
I mean, that brings up another question is, and it’s almost the basis for the paper and the, all the research that’s been happening over the last few decades about this specific topic is what is the importance of thinking about Location and specifically how it relates to Affordability or, or even reduced household Expenditures?

Carrie M (13m 58s):
Yeah, I think for me, it’s really been kind of interesting to think about a lot of the Housing people are on the side, or they just think about 30% of your monthly income being spent on housing costs. And that is probably a very kind of a conservative estimate when we are really thinking about people spending money. Whereas like we know that people are spending energy costs. We know that there’s been a Transportation cost and a lot of times those numbers are not taken into consideration when we’re thinking about cost burdens for families. So a part of a kind of like thinking about this paper, but also in that kind of a broader discussion around the literature is to really kind of think about how people actually live with their new spaces. And, and to Carrie’s point earlier is to really think about in terms of going to be, think about where people are, are spatially distributed around different counties and different Metro areas.

Carrie M (14m 45s):
Those things change over time. So I can easily see us. Are we doing this study in like a five or 10 years is, and coming up with maybe a grade of numbers is just

Prentiss Dantzler (14m 52s):
Because the population has shifted more to, you know, this center city and the surrounding regions, where if we think about the PSID starting in the sixties, right, as a, it’s a time period of a massive suburbanization. So a part of that, that proportioning of different households for this research really is it needs to be understood. It was very much time dependent and conceptually situated. So I would argue that part of the reason to do these types of papers is to really kind of think about the nuances of Affordability overall, but how do things like housing and transportation fit into a broader narrative around the money that people are spending just that live?

Arlie Adkins (15m 27s):
Yeah, I think there is also a critical this access and equity component to this. You know, my background is in Transportation most of my research was in Transportation, but I’ve been shifting a little bit more towards the housing side, partly as a recognition that we can’t have an accessible, equitable transportation system. If we don’t allow access to living in places that are well-served by transit. And I think that it needs to be something that Transportation professionals are thinking about specifically, you know, we can’t just leave it to the housers. You know, when we’re putting in billion dollar investment, we can’t just leave that access, which by definition is a Housing question as an afterthought.

Carrie M (16m 10s):
And I’ll add that, you know, one of our one or the key indicators in a model that predicts transportation costs are the location of jobs. And we know in regions jobs tend to agglomerate and go to the center city and then increasingly to, you know, polycentric areas we have to look at who can live near those jobs. And if you cannot live immediately and you know, those jobs, how can you access them? And is that your mom’s sense of car rides? I can just get highway’s or is it through a range of options you might take transit? And this was a good transition as an affordable, is that infrequent enough that if you have a lead in a day or you can hop on and not only rely on rush hours, when I was started in my dissertation, one of the authors I’ve read was the regional science professor stress.

Carrie M (17m 2s):
And he noted that your access to things, as well as to whether or not why you are accessing, when you have to be coupled with somebody else, you’re a daily kind of time and space that activity space affects your long range of opportunities in life. And so if you add on a daily basis, you can’t get to where you need to go on, whether it’s your children in school, your healthcare, your job, a park for your kid’s, the grocery store, that daily impact as up to a weekly, monthly yearly, and, you know, your overall social mobility and whether or not you can actually have a good wellbeing and get ahead of me. And that was a little bit of also like thinking about the critique of the smart and client paper was that their focus initially was just a job access.

Carrie M (17m 47s):
And there’s so many more things that contribute access over

Jeff Wood (17m 50s):
All weather it’s going to school are the grocery store, all of your activities of daily life. I’m, I’m guessing that, you know, thinking about that in a deeper way, it was kind of what spurred you on also to a certain extent.

Carrie M (18m 0s):
Yeah, just as an early, just brought this up. I want to say it was like a Housing guy or a lot of the time we were speaking of the silos in terms of like where families are really neat and part of the beauty of this project for me, but also just kind of thinking about these things for more from an interdisciplinary nature is to really kind of consider these gaps. So the stuff that we don’t know, so like Transportation is an a, a newer area for me, but I’ve been thinking about it more and more having to work with these two gray scholars about the actual peace, but also thinking about what does this really mean or designing housing policy. And it has no connection and transportation Policy, and it tends to be very problematic. And it was kind of short sighted in terms of what people actually need just to live life without some of these burdens that we’ve been talking about. And I can see that really kind of stretching it in different ways when we were thinking about not just Housing Transportation, but by Carrie in our ladies that are already said this access to jobs or access to the different types of schools.

Carrie M (18m 51s):
And what does that do to change that trajectory for families in a lower income bracket versus the others, right? Or just kind of how we stratify different social services or a public institutions around different neighborhoods to reduce Transportation calls where we have a housing affordability issue. So a lot of it is thinking about branching out to really consider those gaps or nuances that we’re not typically talking about within our siloed more isolated fields. At some point, you say that a measure of the number of jobs that you can access in 30 minutes by trans, they can also be a proxy for the services and goods provide it by those jobs. And there are those jobs and there are those businesses. It doesn’t get enough of the other variables that go into determining some of these daily patterns of how they travel, what else they do with their lives.

Carrie M (19m 38s):
Lots of research has shown that’ll all the other variables that we have to consider is to really understand people’s travel behaviors and decisions because of those complexities Practice was just mentioning other things we have to access. It doesn’t get out of whether or not when they do get home from, you know, maybe the transit, the bus that got them to their jobs. In 30 minutes, we can, they walk the hands on the bus to their child’s school, walk a block, and then they stopped at the park on the way home, or they get to pick up something that you come to the store. And so if you can’t do that, if you can’t trip after you get off the bus from here to your job, and then you might end up driving.

Carrie M (20m 24s):
And so it just is not in most of good enough of a sudden, a holistic measure, all of the interactions between the urban environment and a household and how they travel on a daily or weekly basis.

Jeff Wood (20m 39s):
Well, so recently also there’s been a lot of data sources that have been coming out related to cell phone and tracking and, and those types of things. I mean, Brookings just came out with a piece that looked the triple X

Carrie M (20m 48s):
And how urban form impacts that. I think they found that for miles as the average for more urban environments and seven miles for all the environments, you, you know, how much has this new data and new information going to change the way we think about those silos and, and what Prentiss was talking about in terms of the individual pieces that need to come together to think about this more holistically.

Arlie Adkins (21m 6s):
So as, as much as I am a data person and loved data, and I think there is a lot of opportunity for data Lake you’re talking about to help answer some of these critical questions. I think there’s also a real risk that if it is not Look that with the right amount of nuance and really, you know, as Prentiss and Carrie has said, really looking at that kind of individual context of, of either a place or even a family, it’s easy with big data to draw either of the wrong conclusion or to draw a conclusion that may not be accurate for, you know, people that were really, really trying to make life better for a bit cautious with some of these efforts.

Carrie M (21m 43s):
But I think using that kind of in conjunction with either the sort of work that we’ve been doing tying in some qualitative methods to actually go verify and validate on top of the people on the ground. So it just, you know, do that gut-check to make sure that the big take aways from the big datasets are in their wrong direction. Yeah. I would agree that we need to be careful about using them. There has to be a good analysis, or is it full coverage? All areas in the metropolitan area are there are big gaps where their lack of cell phone towers, where people may be on their phones on all of this all day long, when people are going to use your phone, it would be interested to see what else they know about the cellphone users and that data of the same time.

Carrie M (22m 27s):
It can be a nice complimentary data set to traditional ways that regional transportation agencies have collected data on households, small sample five or 10 year old surveys that they’ve tried to do for a region that they are expensive and time consuming to do that they don’t reach all of the households and its often focused on the community and you know, they can use, there’s only one of the four or five or six or seven and the typical household. So you can have a cell phone data that can help Transportation agencies. The MTOs in the cons understand this kind of peak travel, but again, not to buy into it and not think about it, one of these things, data patterns, and then compliment that with some more qualitative and the sample.

Prentiss Dantzler (23m 15s):
Yeah. And to that point, it was funny because I’m actually trained in Policy and not Planning like I have some Planning background from a master’s, but the big data push in policy has been big for us the last decade. Right. And even as the way we’ve institutionalized, it, it to like encourage a big data or data science as a new area for students to learn, I’ve been really kind of cognizant resistant to some of it. ’cause a lot of it, even with, you know, bigger data sources as some of the times where we’re coming up with the same results that we have from other studies as well. So part of my, my resistance or a fear of it is that we’re, we’re either using big data to get to the same type of results, right. Even if it’s just like kind of second-guessing or fact checking some of the stuff that we already know, but a lot of different times, there’s also the sampling issues that you see with the, even in big data.

Prentiss Dantzler (24m 1s):
So some of the same issues that we can see from traditional data-sets, they were all so used to using you still see the same type of issues and biases and ethical considerations with big data. So a part of this is kind of this hesitation has Arlie put it in a, in a way to really kind of thinking about what big data really is useful for and what are the questions that are not being answered that we can use big data for in the future

Arlie Adkins (24m 24s):
And just really quickly Carrie. And I think the first project we worked on together was ’cause we were noticing some are really important differences and how people respond to their built environment and the, or obscured when you just looked at averages. Or if you just looked at a statistical model that controlled for household income or race and ethnicity, rather than breaking the model apart and trying to really understand what the effect of those demographic or individual characteristics were. So, you know, just again, to echo that we need to be looking at all of this the right way and the right ways is not always the easy way or the fast way or the way that it’s going to go to get your publication out the door of the fastest.

Carrie M (25m 5s):
Yeah. I’m glad you brought it up and it’s relevant. And so we are, at least sample was a lot larger for his dissertation. He had a households in six different cities. I had 70 families in my study in Oakland and that one of the differences we noticed is that we were not hearing from people that they thought their neighborhood is more walkable, even though a walk score would read their neighborhoods is like very walkable in the seventies and eighties. And you know, we ran a statistical test against our qualitative interview and survey responses from households and our studies against these walks score numbers and finding the significant differences and these perceptions and those types of things are buried in the data and will overlook important things for Policy that the practices that need to be addressed if we rely on these large, messy things and getting into the details.

Carrie M (25m 57s):
I mean, I want to know what those folks who are spending $244,000 on Transportation are actually spending it on or the $50,000 that set of people that you all found. Like what, what are you spending $50,000 annually on Transportation? Are you, you have a private jet or what’s the deal? We, we dug into those. We tried to figure it out from other things that they were reporting in there. ’cause it tells you how many, whether or not they purchased a car or they have a car payments, how much their spending on transit pass. And it does include like, or maybe it doesn’t include airlines, flights, but its unclear, I don’t know what they’re buying to Tesla’s a year or a flat out for cash.

Carrie M (26m 39s):
Are you on what you’ve been? Will you spend $50,000 on that?

Arlie Adkins (26m 43s):
Or if it’s a mistake And, and you know, that’s why we did, we did try to clean it up. Some of those outliers that we thought might be that just really couldn’t be explained.

Jeff Wood (26m 53s):
Yeah. So what did you all find from, you know, slicing, dicing the data, cleaning it, putting it together and comparing it with a H plus T data. What did you all find out from your work?

Carrie M (27m 4s):
We found that Urban Form does matter that of course, some of the same patterns around the household characteristics are still the most influential can make a lot more Income you are going to spend more on Transportation even at the urban form, which would allow you to spend less because you can walk for free today, hopefully for all of the lower affordable cost. And by So we broke our households into five Income vans, lowest one being 35% of the area, median income or less, and the highest being 200% of area median income are more. And we found that each in each of those Income vans, households spend less on transportation costs in urban areas.

Carrie M (27m 46s):
Then they did an either or Minerva in suburban or rural areas in the savings were enough for all of the households except for the very lowest income bracket, but 35% am I to offset their higher housing costs in the urban areas. So, and even some of those income brackets and the middle of the new areas, but not enough to offset those, the, you know, in the suburban areas is they were spending a lot on housing and transportation, although some Les on housing and the renters, which was the only way we could test the statistical significance. So that portion of the Study we found that was significantly different across the Urban form of categories from the urban to suburban, Oh, you didn’t test that the owner households, the houses that own their Housing and because of this smaller sample size of how is it ownership in urban areas in the PSID, but also just because of the difference in that your housing Expenditures that you report it, if you own your home given a mortgage or where you are in the mortgage.

Carrie M (28m 46s):
So in a regression model, we also saw that what predictive the, the, the lower Transportation expenditures was the access to good transit and access to jobs as well as of course, as the house of the characteristics.

Arlie Adkins (29m 1s):
Yeah. Just so that as of the highest level, you know, just generally I think consistent findings with this idea of Location Affordability or Housing plus Transportation again, to reiterate what Carrie said, except for that one, the lowest income groups in the urban areas of the data was consistent or finding a more consistent. And I think that surprised us a little bit, you know, especially because we had, you know, we were following on this paper that had found something very different and things are not always as clear and precise about as we like them to be in our research findings, but it was a very, very clear pattern that’s set up.

Carrie M (29m 40s):
We talked about where we were kind of digging in and

Prentiss Dantzler (29m 42s):
It was this idea of a lot of studies tend to be focused on his big kind of a Metro areas as a single or a case studies. But when you really think about it at the nation is not reflective of that. Right. So if you think about where people actually live, a lot of people that don’t live in a densely populated cities, and as a result that you kind of get these kinds of bias estimates where you are including places like in New York or other kind of a lot of Northeastern city’s for that matter, really thinking about where people actually live, where even in Atlanta as a more sprawled out kinda of nature. So a part of this idea of like density are really kind of matters is to take in consideration that urban form of Wood. It really means. And when we just look at where people live is we’re more of a nation of kind of suburban or suburban built communities, kind of trying to figure out how to urbanize those spaces more so than actually the kind of urban densely populated cities that tend to dominate or a lot of research studies.

Arlie Adkins (30m 36s):
That’s a great point. Prentiss and I think also just thinking in terms of, it’s easy to read research about urban form and kind of dismiss it as, Oh, you know, they’re talking about, you know, central city, San Francisco or Oakland, or in New York, or, you know, these places that really don’t reflect where a lot of people live in here, we are really showing that even in some cases, especially in those places that are more, you know, mid urban to suburban, we are seeing impacts of, or seeing the effects of this trade-off between the housing and transportation and a way that yeah, aligns very well with has, has been theorized in what others, it was kind of shown previously since we have this specific data that we analyzed papers that often, I think that there are only about six Metro areas in the U S where you can take transit.

Carrie M (31m 26s):
We identified that our urban black groups were in 48 counties and 29 consolidated statistical areas as a place that people often don’t think of Dallas Houston area at the LA area, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Baltimore, Denver, salt Lake for a course, or the density is as large as an area and is widespread is, you know, the, the six major metros in their chances of systems are up to the level of a New York city subway system. But there are still places in those areas where people live are pretty urban lifestyle, where are the multimodal than dry, some places they might come off.

Carrie M (32m 6s):
And so I think is important for us to think about all of these other areas on the country that do you offer affordable or transportation costs. And it was further investment in sidewalks, operational costs for transit and thinking about where are we incentivize jobs to go that these places to become even more affordable in terms of transportation. So I think there was a good point about the difference in places. I mean, I grew up in suburban Houston and, you know, I had a car when I was 16. I drove everywhere to get everywhere. I mean, I can bike on the trail sometimes when I went to go get cards or whatever, but,

Jeff Wood (32m 41s):
You know, when I turned 16, it was all a car all the time. And then when I moved to San Francisco, I sold my car and I got a Zipcar membership. And so for my anecdata, your report rings true. But I like that point about, it’s not just about the big six are the big seven or the big five or whatever that group is of, you know, really urban places in the United States that don’t reflect necessarily for the rest of the country. I’m curious how your own Anik data kind of looked against the research in the study.

Carrie M (33m 7s):
And I grew up in Michigan. So of course not in Detroit, on the motor city, but it definitely a motorized State. And, but when we went to Ann Arbor, I lived there for four years without a car and got around everywhere. I need it to go just fine. And then we moved to San Francisco without a car, and then to Chicago for 10 years, without a car back to his California, without a car lived in Denver for, for years without a car. And of course, to have a harsher membership’s in order to get to the places I was doing, Research for interviews in those places, but I now have a car here, but I still use it. My insurance company has one of those trackers where they give you a lower rate if you don’t drive that much and the beginning.

Carrie M (33m 52s):
And they kept sending me messages that I had, it turned off and I better send them a photo of my mileage because they couldn’t believe that I was driving that a little, you know, I’ve, I’ve only put a few thousand miles on in the last couple of years and that includes to sit in the mountains.

Arlie Adkins (34m 8s):
And the only thing I would add from a personal perspective is, you know, I’ve had the luxury and the privilege of every, every place I’ve lived, being able to really factor in. Transportation partly because I think about Transportation a lot of in professional sense and also being able to do so in a way, and in places where I could afford to do so. And in fact, you know, where I am now being able to afford to do so, and probably paying less of my income in a mortgage than I should, based on this sort of a Affordability of metrics that in itself, you know, I think this is a sign that, that this data is so complicated. And, and, you know, we, we can think about the 30% being affordable, but a bottom line in some people are having to spend a lot more than that because they have to have Another people have the luxury of being able to, you know, try to find housing that is going to be saving, saving them money.

Arlie Adkins (34m 59s):
So it’s not a, not a clear cut picture.

Carrie M (35m 2s):
Yeah. I’m glad you brought that up. Are we in that’s? You know, this is why I continue to, like this line of research is I’m very lucky that I can live in a location that I do East of downtown Denver, not far from my job, surrounded by grocery stores, halfway between two parts that are less, less than a half a mile walking distance from a major city parts, it’s a prime location. And fortunately we can afford to live here. I couldn’t know if I had to buy because of the price increases in the last seven years, but so many people can not look at a map and say, I want to live here because it’s near my job. It has all these things that I want to live in here because our housing is affordable.

Carrie M (35m 42s):
And then they’d take on these high transportation costs in other parts of the region where they can find affordable housing.

Prentiss Dantzler (35m 48s):
Yeah. I mean, so at that point, probably the worst case example in terms of Transportation, since I’m happy to move it a lot, and I’ve also made probably not the best kind of rational decisions in terms of reducing costs, just purely based on housing and transportation Affordability. But I do think that part of this kind of narrative, or a lot of the ways in which the research has shaped, it brings us back to the planet earlier in terms of like, thinking about subjective kind of measures of how people actually live their lives, right. And the importance of really kinda getting a daily experience or a voice that a lot of the big data questions are even in the kind of these other research projects where it kind of a sense of lack where like I chose the live in Denver, but I worked in Colorado Springs and I drove the most I’ve ever driven in my life for those kinds of, for years going back and forth just for the idea that it can be in a bigger city, in a more diverse kind of community where I didn’t feel like I had that same type of opportunity to in Colorado Springs, but it was a choice to like be on the road every day for at least an hour.

Prentiss Dantzler (36m 49s):
Right. So there’s, there’s kind of these trade-offs that tend to go outside of the kind of rational choice, economic arguments about spending patterns that technically our paper doesn’t deal with specifically, but it also gives some insights in terms of like those intersections between kinda of household Dynamics and urban farm or the built environment. And it’s just to kind of thinking through critically, we’ve had several conversations about this one, we were analyzing data, I’m trying to understand the, the kind of results, where are the proxies or something else. Right. So it’s not just about having children. It’s about the lived Practice of having children with, does that do to change our transportation patterns or your travel behavior overall, and kinda thinking critically about where we use data or a specific measure for something, or are we really are accounting for everything that they measure actually it brings to the table?

Prentiss Dantzler (37m 35s):
Or is it more of a proxy for some type of way we live the experience that we were just not defining in the paper specifically.

Carrie M (37m 43s):
Yeah. And, you know, and I’m really glad you brought up that term household Dynamics apprentice because, you know, for years I’ve used household characteristics and I really liked them, you know, calling it Dynamics is the way Prentiss Does because families are a very dynamic, you know, it’s not just about their Income and Versailles, very generic measures and what we cannot really go into as much through the PSID, even though it as many variables out of the family or just how those variables interact and play out each day. So we Prentiss, when we first started on this project, when we looked through the huge, you know, hundreds of variable list and the PSID dataset that we were going to use, and we select all of these household variables that really fine-grained things about, you know, every household member in each person and, and how it works.

Carrie M (38m 32s):
And we did end up using much of that, but there’s so much more of that. You could have really gotten into some of those subjective decisions and interactions versus versus for adults to be explored somewhere. And we have to realize that as planners, that based on all kinds of things that a lot of these data sets don’t capture,

Jeff Wood (39m 4s):
I want to go back and ask about that group. That’s below 35% have a very median income, because that was the one that didn’t quite fit into the pattern that you saw it with everyone else. Ya know, when I read the paper, I kept on thinking about the loss of ridership in a place like Los Angeles or, you know, ridership loss for a transit around the country and trying to imagine, and I think it’s been discussed to a certain extent, but imagine what that means in terms of housing, in terms of where people are going and thinking about that lower income group who are often, you know, the folks that are in places like Los Angeles, where I think a huge proportion of the ridership comes from low income people, but if you’re pushed out of your neighborhood, it might lead to the reduction in, in ridership.

Jeff Wood (39m 44s):
So I’m curious about if you all had any thoughts when that came up, that 35%, a very median income or below and how that didn’t quite fit. And, and if that lead to anything else that, that crossed your mind in, in that respect.

Arlie Adkins (39m 57s):
So yeah, I would say that, I think there’s definitely a sort of displacement and gentrification piece to that as you just suggested. And I think that some of the digging into the ridership losses in LA and Portland elsewhere. Yeah. It definitely are showing up, you know, when people who are a regular transit writers can no longer afford to live in your transit, we are going to see ridership decreases. And I think the other piece of this on the Housing side, and I think if we say this in the paper is that, that is also, you know, the population that really does need subsidy to be able to live in place the way that was not, it might not be able to afford whether that’s through the development of affordable housing, you know, through the low-income housing tax credit program, or whether it’s through the housing choice voucher program, you know, both of those programs are only meeting a tiny fraction of demand for a subsidy.

Arlie Adkins (40m 47s):
And so it’s clear, I think, and I think also showing in the data that we are not keeping up with a need there. And so I think there is both the transportation and a Housing side to the story in both are really, you know, critical at Nita Policy response made an investment on. And I think that one of the key questions, this is how well those investments, even if they happen, how well they’ll be coordinated across Transportation on Housing, you know, there are, there are those that I think criticized the kind of work that we’re doing, or assuming that we’re trying to like achieve our transit ridership goals or achieve our carbon reduction goals based on low income people using transit. And I think that the key to this whole story is trying to provide choice for people to do what works best for them.

Arlie Adkins (41m 30s):
And then I think that comes through in the data that we have, they are where We need to be making investments. Where are we going to be making our interventions is as places where people are not able to make those choices. And, you know, we, we can only look at that so much with the data, but I think we want to make it clear that we’re trying to increase opportunities for choice, rather than try to get certain parts of the population to only live a certain way.

Carrie M (41m 54s):
People should have two different modes, choices available for all of the different places. They have to go with their time to own a car, or are only transit. And that they’re really either going to cost them a lot or to be pretty time intensive and limit where they can go, Oh, we’re not trying to be a physical determinism here where this physical environment dictates how you travel, but it can support multiple options that are designing correctly, a lot of different use cases and a lot of transportation options readily and easily available for use.

Prentiss Dantzler (42m 27s):
Yeah, I’ve been thinking about this too. And in terms of, you know, we keep talking about urban form of the built environment, but they’re kind of a normative assumption that the infrastructure for these spaces have been built years ago. Right? So like, as places are changing their population or a demographics, there’s going to be a point where the public infrastructure, it doesn’t match the needs of local residents, right? So there’s a ton of studies that are talking about the suburbanization of poverty. And that was something else that you were talking about when we were analyzing data. It was just a lot of the kind of metrics that were talking about in terms of Transportation affordability, but also just travel to behavior. One is this kind of a story of, Arlie kind of mentioned that you suggested about the changing role with the neighborhood level, right.

Prentiss Dantzler (43m 8s):
Or change in communities, but there are two of the other piece of just like how people would just don’t have access to just because they have been pushed out. So a crease is kind of a bifurcated system in terms of transit where normally one person might be more reliant on, you know, on the ground transit system or a Trane system. Or now that there are left to the winds are just a bus routes. They are taking multiple bus routes just to do, to get to the same job that they’ve had before. And after that move. So we’ve been thinking about a lot of times in which we were kind of Understanding the built environment is a specific, very much time dependent on like how people are actually using those, those spaces and really kind of making us, or forcing us that kind of a deal with the issue of that in the future. Maybe we have to really drastically rethink what it means to have a, a public transit system in, do we need to rely more in subsidies that are in one particular space is just because the there’s not enough political will to build a new transit line or are there other kinds of ways and nuances that we can create policies to kind of alleviate some of those financial burdens for families?

Carrie M (44m 6s):
Yeah. We looked at this group as well as the, just above it in 65% of the area, median income a lot, especially when we started taking a percentage of this, that they’re housing costs in the transportation costs, we’re out of their total. Income, I’m thinking about, you know, how, how do you move forward? Anything else is the combined costs of those two is 90% of your income. And also the Austin at a very low income level households tend to have less stable employment. And that this group is a very diverse, so you can make that assumption about everyone in the income level that they’re going from job to job and having bouts of unemployment. So maybe you are working at the same low wage job every day for hours, or even a longer or more than 40 hours a week for that group where they have a much more, you know, unstable income having to have a stable requirement, have a car payment, and yes, every time you need to get into it and go somewhere, it makes it even more difficult.

Carrie M (45m 7s):
You rely on I’m a car as your only means of transportation. And so really thinking about when we’re allocating scarce public dollars for the investment’s in housing and transportation, I was like, what Prentiss was just saying is where did we really need to put a much more subsidy and both of those infrastructure investments, housing and transportation, and other things, and the schools because of the scarcity of resources at the household level. And they definitely are not surviving those incomes. And that’s with State where they can live a healthy high-quality life is all their money is just going to, to items in their entire household and needs that may have to spend money on it.

Prentiss Dantzler (45m 50s):
To that point. It is as fairly as they have a colleague or Arizona Paul atti. And he is a critical theorist to train as a geographer. And it’s funny because we had this same kind of conversation cause he does a lot of the, kind of a theoretical conceptual work on critical infrastructure. We had this same kind of conversation we’re Housing is not considered critical infrastructure within these spaces. So it was just, it was just another kind of a piece in terms of like, and when we think about infrastructure, we tend to forget about some of the commodities that we structure around places they are kinda meet or a kind of interact with wa with the normal kind of infrastructure piece, without thinking of it as like a, a holistic system is to really provide some of these are basic services that everybody needs as Arlie.

Prentiss Dantzler (46m 31s):
And Kara mentioned, we were Housing even when we think about the, the, the element of schools and this case, as well as in terms of like really dictating or changing tribal behavior more specifically, but also kind of really encompassing what do people need to actually live a sustainable lives? And, and the peace in terms of this is where I really kind of re articulate the need for, you know, Policy alleviation strategies are the subsidies within these quarters have housing and transportation, but also we needed a more kind of central understanding of what people actually need on a daily lives and how they’re interconnected. And that I would hope that as part of this conversation getting put forward is to think about not just Transportation are not just housing, but how they have to be mutually dependent and co-exist, or thinking about suitable Policy solutions.

Arlie Adkins (47m 15s):
I am really glad that you, you said that the way, you know, Did that Housing is infrastructure. And when we were thinking about urban space and are thinking about planning, and we’re thinking about Policy, I mean, it sounds kind of cold in a way to think about housing as infrastructure, but it, you know, in the same way that transportation, you know, serves absolutely critical need for people to live their daily lives, you know, Housing is right there, you know, thinking about them, both in, in that kind of infrastructure investment world is an important part of moving this conversation forward. And I think that that’s something we often talk about seeing that CN team. And we were thinking about the housing and transportation affordability, indexes.

Carrie M (47m 58s):
This is a very important to raise Income. So one inside of the equation, but also important to reduce Expenditures and costs for households. And it’s going to be a dual column strategy. We have to be lowering costs and raising incomes at the same time.

Jeff Wood (48m 13s):
It sounds similar to like an energy efficiency strategy as well. Right. Trying to do better at being more efficient, but also increase the amount of renewable energy that you have kind of a tool to try to make some sort of an analogy, except in this case, that’s it,

Carrie M (48m 26s):
And or sectors and different silos and different agencies. Yeah.

Jeff Wood (48m 32s):
I have one more question for you when you all finished a paper, what stood out the most to each of you individually? I mean, what was the thing that kind of popped and, and maybe blew your mind a little bit.

Carrie M (48m 43s):
I have a couple of quick thoughts after we rolled out the H plus T index, a lot of the Metro areas to sign on it, that they were going to adopt it as a benchmark and in their regional planning documents. And then over time, and since that was now 15 years ago, some of the regional planning agencies have began to like, is this really a good tool that we can use to benchmark our regional planning and investments against the, you know, that they were setting goals that household’s in a region and you spend less than 45% of their income on housing and transportation pieces like smart and clients critique of Location Affordability that it’s not that strong of a relationship with Ervin Form. And that is more about how So characteristics. We can help start to erode policy makers, confidence in the ability to lower people’s transportation costs to the public investments.

Carrie M (49m 32s):
I hope that this article shows that the, the urban form of relationship is there. And at the same time, when it also shows is there are not enough places where people can lower their costs and what’s promising Policy strategy. And that some regions have been adopting for at least the last 10 years of not longer, or are these priority areas where you are going to both improve the urban areas, but also bring up some of these knit urban areas. So that can be a more livable in a walkable. And it’s a greater investments in those inner ring suburbs of a more frequent transit, more a bus lines breaking you. Some of those cul-de-sacs with walking paths and bike lanes, Westminster is a suburban as an example, where they were doing a huge, a bike lane expansion.

Carrie M (50m 19s):
And it was the idea, and they’re doing it using an equity policy tool to see where his neighbor has to be most benefited by increase in bike Lanes. They just say for sidewalks or presence of sidewalks instead of no sidewalk. So I think this to me, show that the regional planning agencies interest and Transportation cost model is still a valid.

Prentiss Dantzler (50m 44s):
Yeah, I think for me, part of a piece in Cary and I talk about it earlier on, and then we all kind of get up in Denver are a few times really kinda, really thinking about it, that we were actually surprised I PSID did have a huge or a large, a representation of Urban households. And we talk about it before and they were kind of a conversation that it will, it is kind of a, maybe more reflective or where people actually live by given the demographic changes and the shifts in population back in a center. City’s part of the question that was really kind of toeing around when we decided that to, you know, measure a certain variables that are in particular ways is to account for some of these variability or variation in terms of households, but also kind of pretending to be a consideration that we still need to know more about like urban areas in a very, a much broader way.

Prentiss Dantzler (51m 33s):
And I think part of this kind of a situation where are places are changing, I think it was last fall when we were kind of working on other aspects of that paper. And I was in Toronto at a time, but seeing like they have like a very kind of a different approach to Transportation or, you know, their cultural Practice is a bike. Riding are a very high, there is a strong public transit system, but also, you know, people are still drive every day. So kind of really thinking about this issue of density and population shifts at a largely increased I’d, even the piece that Carey and Arlie brought up earlier in a relation to jobs that I would argue that a lot of times we just kind of treat jobs and incomes as long as this climbing like property values. And we know that it’s just not the case for a lot of families.

Prentiss Dantzler (52m 14s):
So really kind of taken into consideration like, all right, here are the household characteristics are Dynamics as we’re seeing. And when you kinda interact, those are kinda put those in a conversation with the air urban form. You still see that certain Urban Form kind of characteristics actually have an effect on curbing. Some of these Transportation Expenditures even where you’re controlling for a rising housing costs or just housing costs in a rural. So a part of this piece is kind of really thinking about the data that we were using it a little bit more critically in terms of producing these results, but also what kind of Effects in terms of Transportation. And I think broader than just Housing interpretation, but what are the kind of realistic policy outcomes in terms of intervening and families today, but also in the future? And that, I don’t think you can have a conversation about it either or approach when you got to do both and to really get to the critical question of how to kind of address some of these issues,

Arlie Adkins (53m 4s):
What we were finishing the paper I was struck by how this sort of these mid urban areas as we called them, sort of the, you know, older, suburban locations, how are they stood out both as, as having some real opportunities for, you know, changing what we’re seeing, but also some real challenges in terms of not having necessarily the most supportive environment and having a fair amount of poverty located in them. And so that, that stood out at the time, but more so I think it is significant because those are also places where we have, and a lot of regions, a lot of fragmentation in terms of Government, you know, we’ve got, you know, smaller, suburban, just jurisdictions.

Arlie Adkins (53m 46s):
Think about a place like, you know, in Minneapolis where you’ve got all these suburban jurisdictions, right outside of the city of Minneapolis, you know, cities around the country have a similar set up, you know, we’ve got Ferguson, Missouri, probably being in this category, places with some real challenges that we’ve seen over the years more recently. And we were talking about this earlier, but more recently that sort of outsized role that the same places and play in the most recent election, these suburban jurisdictions outside of Atlanta, outside of Detroit, outside of Phoenix, there’s a lot of change happening in these places politically, but also with urban forum. And I think some real opportunities to look at these places that are sometimes overlooked by our urban planners and really figure out what sorts of investments coordinated investments can be made to really make these places more affordable and have that infrastructure that can support people’s lives.

Jeff Wood (54m 35s):
If somebody wanted to Get a hold of the paper and read it, where, where can they Find it?

Carrie M (54m 39s):
It was published in Housing Policy Debate available on their website. I’d also have posted my, I have a number of we each got it. Allocation are free to email us individually for a one of those links so we can download it for free unless they already have access to their awesome. I hope folks to get a chance to take a look at it, to read it, and I appreciate you all for coming on. Thanks. Carrie and Prentiss, and Arlie for joining us. We really appreciate it. Thank you for having us.

Jeff Wood (55m 19s):
Thanks for joining us. The Talking Headways podcast is the project of The Overhead Wire on the web. If you ever read wire.com sign up for a free trial of The Overhead Wire Daley or a 14 year old daily city’s news list by clicking the link at the top, right of The Overhead wire.com. And please, please, please put the Podcast a pitch on.com/the Overhead Wire many thanks to our current patrons for their ongoing support. And as always, you can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud, overcast, Spotify, and wherever you get your podcasts. And you can always find a traditional [email protected] See you next time at Talking Headways.


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