H+T Affordability

Desired Trend


Current Trend

Baseline (2006-2010): 50.6%
Current (2011-2015): 47.4%

Theme Distinctive


Proportion of household income spent on housing and transportation costs

Why is it Important?

Housing and transportation (H+T) are the largest household expenditures for most households. Reducing H+T costs makes it easier for families to meet their basic needs and creates more disposable income. H+T Affordability is also an indicator of how well the region has planned development to meet the needs of residents. Improvement on this indicator could mean the region has developed in a way that makes it possible for more people to live in location efficient places – places where they can easily access work, shopping, recreation, and education.1

How are we Doing?

According to the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), H+T costs over 45 percent are considered unaffordable.2 In the St. Louis region the median household spends 47.4 percent of household income on housing and transportation, which is slightly higher than the affordability threshold. The region is moving in the right direction on this indicator. For 2006-2010, average housing plus transportation costs in St. Louis were 50.6 percent of household income.3 This small change in the affordability of the region is the result of lower auto-transportation costs, higher transit costs, slightly lower median income, and lower housing costs. Factors that made the region more affordable include a decline in housing costs and a substantial decline in auto-transportation costs (driven by a decline in gasoline prices). These factors outweighed those that made the region less affordable, including an increase in transit costs (due in part to a Metro fare increase in 2014), a slight increase in VMT, and a small decrease in median household income.

For comparison purposes, the Where We Stand table uses data provided by CNT.4 The St. Louis MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) ranks 32nd with a household at the median income level paying 51 percent of income on housing and transportation for the time period 2009-2013. The region continues to be considered relatively affordable, ranking below the peer region average of 53 percent.  


Geographic Level

St. Louis eight county bi-state region, including Franklin, Jefferson, St. Charles and St. Louis counties and city of St. Louis in Missouri and Madison, Monroe and St. Clair counties in Illinois. View map.


1This indicator is a HUD Flagship Sustainability Indicator. The Flagship Indicators were created for the Sustainable Community Initiative in an effort to develop a common national framework for measuring long-term progress toward sustainable communities.

2Center for Neighborhood Technology, About the Index, accessed on 7 July 2016 at http://htaindex.cnt.org/about/

3The baseline data was revised for this indicator due to a change in methodology. The new method is more closely aligned with the HUD method by excluding households without mortgages and truck VMT.

4East-West Gateway uses local data to calculate the metrics for OneSTL. CNT uses a different method as well as data available for communities across the country. 5Federal Highway Administration, Transportation and Housing Costs; accessed on 7 January 2014 at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/livability/fact_sheets/transandhousing.pdf

Data Sources

U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey (2005-2009), LEHD, AAA 2011 Your Driving Costs Brochure, East-West Gateway Council of Governments