California Housing and Transportation Costs: Impacts and Implications
This study seeks to develop a transparent methodology for estimating the housing and transportation (H&T) costs and burdens across California. To understand the impact that climate policy is having on housing and transportation, this study also seeks to answer several questions about whether, and to what extent, H&T costs and burdens experienced by California households—particularly priority population households that are most likely disproportionately burdened by these costs—influence households’ home relocation decisions. For example, do California households that live in low-income communities and communities of color experience a higher combined housing plus transportation cost burden? What are the differences in H&T costs between low-, middle-, and high-income households and across different place types? What are the factors influencing these differences? How are these H&T cost burdens impacting where households choose to live?
The objectives of this study are to:
- Develop a methodology to quantify H&T costs and burdens based on existing data sources that can be easily updated by CARB staff when newer data becomes available.
- Evaluate how the quantified H&T costs and burdens differ with respect to sociodemographic variables and location-transportation specific characteristics and determine the factors that affect these differences.
- Examine pre- and post-relocation H&T costs by sociodemographic variables and assess what factors are driving these relocations.
- Assess to what extent the quantified H&T costs and burdens are representative of various sub-populations within California.
- Develop policy recommendations to reduce H&T cost burdens in the most impacted populations.
California is experiencing multiple crises that disproportionally impact priority population communities. California’s ongoing housing crisis is the result of insufficient housing (specifically affordable housing) and lack of housing production near employment centers and services. This crisis has been exacerbated for priority population communities because of historically discriminatory policies, such as redlining. At the same time, increasing housing options in transportation-efficient neighborhoods is part of the State’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction strategy to address the climate crisis, and this must be done in a manner that avoids potential unintended equity and social consequences, including gentrification and displacement of historically underserved communities. This study will examine how the convergence of these crises impacts the housing and transportation costs experienced by California households—particularly priority population households that may be disproportionately burdened by these costs.
There are several efforts that calculate H&T costs, such as the Center for Neighborhood Technology’s H+T® Affordability Index, the Smart Growth Equity Calculator (Beta Version), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Location Affordability Index v.3, and Housing Cost Burden data available from the California Department of Public Health. This study would build upon these efforts by creating a methodology that is transparent, can use updated data, and addresses any methodological or data limitations. Additionally, the methodology developed through this project will also quantify the H&T cost burden. This methodology could also be used to study changes of H&T cost burdens over time.
This study is one of many complementary studies in CARB’s housing and transportation research portfolio that seek to inform Sustainable Communities Strategies (SCS) evaluations per Senate Bill (SB) 375 as well as evaluation of their progress and implementation per SB 150. Additionally, this study will provide CARB and other state agencies with an assessment of how these costs vary across regions, locations (higher and lower VMT areas), and sociodemographic groups to inform future climate and housing policy development.
III.Scope of Work
Task 1 – Project Advisory Committee
The contractor should work with the CARB contract manager to recruit CARB program staff and staff from relevant public agencies (e.g., California Department of Housing and Community Development, metropolitan planning organizations [MPOs]) to serve on the project advisory committee. Additionally, the contractor should recruit members from a broad array of community-based organizations, including but not limited to those with a housing or transportation focus, in regions throughout the state to ensure that different populations’ needs are represented in the research project and that policy recommendations generated by the research are appropriate and feasible. Committee membership should reflect a diversity of geographic regions, urban forms, and race/ethnicities. Community-based advisory committee members will be compensated for their participation.
The committee will provide expert guidance to ensure the study approach and findings are appropriately contextualized. Specifically, the committee will review and provide feedback on Task 2 (Literature Review), Task 3 (Develop Methodology and Quantify H&T), Task 4 (Analyze Quantified H&T Costs and Burdens), and Task 5 (Assess Representativeness of Quantified H&T Costs and Burdens), Task 6 (Identify Strategies to Lower H&T Cost Burdens), and interim and final reports.
Task 2 – Literature and Tool Review
In consultation with CARB and the Project Advisory Committee, the contractor shall review the existing literature and tools on applicable priority populations (e.g., underserved and low-income communities per AB 535 and SB 1550, communities of color, etc.), H&T costs, burdens, and impact on housing location decisions. Existing tools the literature review could draw upon include, but are not limited to, the Center for Neighborhood Technology’s H+T® Affordability Index, the Smart Growth Equity Calculator (Beta Version), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Location Affordability Index v.3, Housing Cost Burden data available from the California Department of Public Health, etc. As part of this task, the contractor will also define housing and transportation costs and burdens to utilize within this project. Burdens should be related to income.
Task 3 – Develop Methodology and Quantify H&T Costs
In consultation with CARB and the Project Advisory Committee, the contractor will build upon existing tools to develop a methodology to quantify H&T costs and burdens specific to California at a granular level statewide. The methodology outputs will be used to assess the impacts on housing location decisions, keeping in mind the objectives to evaluate how various aspects of H&T costs and burdens vary statewide and within regions based on local characteristics. This, includes, but not necessarily limited to:
- Whether, and to what extent, sociodemographic variables and location-transportation characteristics affect household H&T cost burdens for households.
- How household H&T cost burdens differ and relationships between sociodemographic variables and transportation characteristics of a location.
- The amount of VMT; accessibility level for retail, schools, and parks; the level and type of transit service; and the presence and quality of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.
- Accessibility, VMT, and cost outcomes experienced by priority population households that move from areas with high accessibility to areas of low accessibility.
- Potential causal factors affecting observed H&T disparities, both individually (H, T) and combined (H+T).
- Where elevated H&T costs and cost burdens occur in California regions, at the census block group level (if available), and the characteristics of the environment that make the difference.
- Relocation patterns within California and the factors the drive relocation, including the role of H&T costs.
The contractor should develop the methodology to quantify H&T costs and burdens utilizing the most current data sources with the finest geographic resolution possible, such as census block group level. The methodology should allow a user to aggregate the variables to larger geographic resolution, such as the metropolitan planning organization (MPO), city, county level.
Task 3a. Obtain and compile relevant existing datasets
The contractor will obtain and compile relevant existing datasets that will be used to calculate H&T costs and burdens. These data sources could include census data, travel surveys, etc. The contractor will perform a quality analysis of the datasets before using these to quantify H&T costs and burdens.
Task 3b. Develop methodology
Based on work completed in Task 2, as well as using other available methodologies, tools, and sources,the contractor will develop a transparent statewide methodology for quantifying H&T costs and burdens that can be easily understood, updated, and used by CARB staff. The methodology could be based on a set of equations or developed as a spreadsheet. The H&T cost methodology could build off existing tools, such as Housing Cost Burden data available from the California Department of Public Health or the Center for Neighborhood Technology’s H+T® Affordability Index, but with modifications to address any methodological or data limitations. The methodology will also quantify the H&T cost burden. The output of the methodology should be the various housing and transportation costs variables quantified along with contextual data and these should be exportable in an electronic format.
Task 3c. Quantify H&T costs and burdens
Based on the data obtained for this study, the contractor will quantify H&T costs and burdens, both individually (H, T) and combined (H+T), at the finest geographic resolution possible and for a variety of sociodemographic variables (e.g., household income, race/ethnicity, housing tenure) and location-transportation specific characteristics (e.g., typical household VMT, accessibility to services and amenities, active transportation characteristics, transit service, development density).
Task 4 – Analyze Quantified H&T Costs and Burdens
In consultation with CARB and the Project Advisory Committee, the contractor shall evaluate the quantified H&T costs and burdens and contextual data from Task 3 to analyze topics such as:
- The extent to which H&T costs vary within a region based on location-transportation specific and sociodemographic characteristics.
- The extent to which H&T totals vary by built environment.
- The extent to which priority population communities experience higher H&T cost burdens and how these burdens influence internal and external relocation.
- How accessibility changes for relocated priority population communities and whether these populations view relocation as positive or negative social and economic experiences.
Task 5 – Assess Representativeness of Quantified H&T Costs and Burdens
The contractor, in consultation with CARB and the Project Advisory Committee, will assess the extent that the H&T costs and burdens quantified as part of this project are representative of the current lived experiences of various sub-populations across California (e.g., low-income households, communities of color, priority populations, etc.). The contractor will do this through a new data collection effort using a variety of methods such as focus groups, surveys, interviews, etc. This new data collection effort could also complement any data gaps or limitations identified in Task 3. Focus group and interview participants will be compensated for their participation.
Task 6 – Identify Strategies to Lower H&T Cost Burdens
Based on work completed in prior tasks, as well as using other available sources, the contractor will identify 1) how much and to what extent do identified H&T costs represent a burden to priority population communities, and 2) strategies and recommended approaches that the State, MPOs, local governments, and others could consider to lower H&T cost burdens for the households with the highest H&T burden. This will inform the development of public policy recommendations that may be employed to target areas with elevated H&T cost burdens, consistent with the 2022 Scoping Plan and SB 150 objectives, as well as assisting CARB staff with evaluating the progress and implementation of SCSs prepared by MPOs.
The project pre-proposal must include but is not limited to the following deliverables:
At Pre-Proposal Stage
- Provide a cultural competency statement in the pre-proposal.
At Beginning of Contract
- All researchers must undergo cultural competency training (examples include implicit bias training, racial equity training, etc.). Trainings should be completed or scheduled within 30 days of contract execution.
- Work with CARB staff at the beginning of the project to create a 1-page plain-language outreach deliverable for the public describing the project’s goals, process, and planned deliverables (available in multiple languages, template will be provided).
During Active Contract Period
- Quarterly Progress Reports including public-facing updates to be posted to CARB’s website.
- Quarterly Progress Meetings.
- Informal monthly progress update meetings with CARB contract manager (if applicable).
- Interim report that includes the 1) draft literature review, 2) list of secondary datasets that will be used to quantify H&T costs and burdens and how these were chosen, and 3) outline of the methodology for calculating H&T costs and burdens. The interim report will also include the feedback received from the project advisory committee and how this was or was not incorporated and why.
Prior to Contract Close
- Draft final report
- Include a plain language summary in draft final report.
- Include an equity implications section in draft final report.
- Draft H&T methodology to display H&T costs at the census block group level (if available), filterable by MPO, county, and city.
- Draft and final H&T methodology manual, including data sources, instructions for how CARB staff can update the data inputs, and any limitations on interpreting results.
- Final Report.
- Final Statewide H&T methodology.
- Seminar presenting summary of results.
- Draft and Final 2-page project summary for public outreach.
- All data, analyses and analytical tools generated through the course of this project.
- Peer reviewed publications should be publicly available (please budget for this expense; submission-ready publications shall be reviewed by CARB staff).
Additional deliverables to be determined in consultation with CARB staff.
It is anticipated this project will be completed in 30 months from the start date (start date is estimated to be in Spring 2023). The estimated budget for this project is up to $500,000.
- Responsiveness to the goals and objectives outlined in the pre-proposal solicitation (20 points)
The pre-proposal should explain—in adequate detail and clear, understandable language—how the proposed project satisfies the project objectives: develop a transparent methodology to calculate H&T costs and burdens that can be updated by CARB staff and use the outputs of the methodology to enhance CARB’s understanding of whether, and to what extent, do housing and transportation (H&T) costs and burdens experienced by California households—particularly priority population households that are disproportionately burdened by these costs—influence households’ home relocation decisions.
- Policy relevance/benefits to the state (10 points)
The pre-proposal should explain how the proposed project is relevant to and provides benefits to the state. Reviewers will assess if the pre-proposal describes how the project will provide data, information, and/or products to CARB, and how those project outputs will help CARB accomplish its mission. This work supports implementation of Assembly Bill 32, SB 32, SB 375, and SB 150 as it will help CARB and other state and regional agencies, local governments and other stakeholders assess if and how various transportation and land use strategies can help the state achieve critical greenhouse gas, air quality, and equity goals. This study will also examine the impacts of climate policies on priority populations.
- Work experience and subject matter expertise (20 points)
The pre-proposal should demonstrate that the proposers have the work experience or subject matter expertise required to successfully carry out the proposed project as described. Additionally, the pre-proposal should describe how the project will build upon previous relevant work that was funded by CARB, other regional, state, and federal agencies. Proposers should have expertise in data analysis, land use and transportation policy and planning, and a demonstrated ability to understandably synthesize complex information from the research literature and translate this information into format that can be used by CARB and other practitioners. The team should also demonstrate an ability to look beyond quantitative data to convey other important considerations, including equity, geographical and political context, etc. Applicants and partners must demonstrate previous experience in equity-oriented climate, transportation and/or housing work. Does the team have experience in evaluating equity-related program or policy outcomes? Does the team commit to cultural competency training (e.g., implicit bias training, racial equity training) as a deliverable and provide a cultural competency statement in the pre-proposal?
If the proposer has experience with community-based engagement approaches, the pre-proposal should describe this prior work, provide letters of support or references, and/or describe how this prior work has impacted communities. Regardless of prior experience with community engagement, the pre-proposal should describe how the team will meaningfully engage the community in the execution of the proposed project.
- Expanding expertise (10 points)
The pre-proposal should explain how the project team expands expertise such as by incorporating multidisciplinary expertise or perspectives, including members from various public universities, non-academic institutions, or community-based organizations, or providing opportunities to build skills and expertise for individuals from underrepresented groups. Reviewers will consider if key personnel contributing significantly to the project (i.e., a principal investigator, co-principal investigator or co-investigator, contributing 25 percent or more of their time to the project) have not worked with CARB in the past five years.
- Explanation of technical or methodological approach (20 points)
The pre-proposal should clearly explain the logic and feasibility of the methodology and technical approach to the project, spell out the sequence and relationships of major tasks, and explain methods for performing the work. The pre-proposal should include a clear description and plan for how each task will be completed. The proposer should specify why the methodology proposed is the best method to address the goals of this project.
- Level and quality of effort and cost effectiveness (20 points)
The pre-proposal should describe how time and resources will be allocated and demonstrate how this allocation ensures the project’s success. Pre-proposal reviewers will evaluate, for example: if the objectives of the project can be met given this allocation, if there is adequate supervision and oversight to ensure that the project will remain on schedule, if time and cost are appropriately divvied up across different project tasks and stages, detail provided on compensation for advisory committee members, etc.
 Priority populations include disadvantaged and low-income communities, as defined in AB 535 and SB 1550.
 CARB’s related research portfolio includes contract 18RD021 “Screening Method and Map for Evaluating Transportation Access Disparities and other Built Environment-Related Social Determinants of Health,” contract 19STC005 “Examining Entitlement to Inform Policy and Process in California: Advancing Social Equity in Housing,” contract 20STC008 “Evaluating the Potential for Housing Development in Transportation-Efficient and Healthy, High-Opportunity Areas in California,” and contract 21RD009 “Opportunities to Address Past Inequity to Build Healthier, More Sustainable Communities.”
 Accessibility refers to how much you can get to in a given amount of time, as opposed to mobility, which is how far you can go in that time.
 The resolution of the data shall be as granular, as feasible, from an availability and cost perspective, and the contractor will work with CARB and the Project Advisory Committee to ensure the data used for this project has the appropriate level of detail. When determining the spatial resolution, the margin of error will also be examined.
 Sources could include CARB’s White Paper on Anti-Displacement Strategy Effectiveness and Victoria Transport Policy Institute’s Evaluating Public Transit Benefits and Costs: Best Practices Guidebook, among others.
 The resolution of the census data shall be as granular, as feasible, from an availability and cost perspective, and the contractor shall work with CARB and the Project Advisory Committee to ensure the appropriate level of data is obtained.