New VCU Report Shows Opportunity to Better Locate Affordable Housing & Businesses

A new report issued by the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at VCU found that affordable housing in the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area is not located near available jobs. The study observed the geographic location of jobs generally available for people living in low-cost housing. The lead researcher, Tom Jacobson said, “This is the first time this pattern has been analyzed, and it documents a metropolitan problem. Affordable housing and available jobs are not located in close proximity.”

The report revealed that there are 67,000 more modest-wage jobs than low-cost housing units in the suburban ring around the city. Retail and service jobs are intensely located in the surrounding counties, but affordable housing is concentrated in the city’s Southside and East End, close-in suburban neighborhoods, and rural towns on the peripheral of the metropolitan area. The study also found that the GRTC Transit System only provides access to 52 percent of the region’s low-cost housing and 45 percent of modest-wage jobs are within one-quarter mile of a bus stop.

According to Jacobson, “A well-planned metro area is a community of short distances…households should have the ability to choose to live close to their job. This is especially critical for lower income households with no or one car.”

The second part of the study addressed neighborhood opposition against affordable housing construction. The report analyzed six higher density affordable housing projects and their surrounding neighborhoods in the metropolitan area before and after construction. No notable long-term impact was found on crime rates, property values, and property sales. This shows that fears around high density affordable housing are typically baseless.

The report provides a guide for future affordable housing and business locations, public transport expansion, and sidewalk construction, as well as strong support for mixed income projects. Jacobson hopes this study will be considered when siting new affordable housing units and in economic development strategies used by the city and surrounding localities.

Read more about the study: Wilder School News

Read the full report: Understanding the Jobs–Affordable Housing Balance in the Richmond Region

Featured image source: Jeff Auth, Wikimedia

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