H+T Affordability

Desired Trend


Current Trend

Baseline (2017): 49.7%
Current (2021): 45.6%

Theme Distinctive


Proportion of median 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.

How are we Doing?

According to the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), H+T costs over 45 percent are considered unaffordable.1 In the St. Louis region, in 2021, average housing plus transportation costs were about 45.6 percent of the median household income, which is right at the affordability threshold. The data indicates that the average housing plus transportation costs in St. Louis were 49.7 percent of the median household income in 2017, 4.2 percentage points higher than in 2021.

The appearance that the region became more affordable from 2017 to 2021 is due to a large decrease in transportation costs, which was driven by two variables that were deeply affected by the pandemic—vehicle miles traveled and transit costs. Transit costs are measured by fare receipts, which is down substantially due to reduced ridership. This is a cost that is heavily affecting the metric value. How these factors really influenced household expenses needs further study. Between 2017 and 2021 other changes that influence this metric are that housing costs were up for renters and down for home owners and gas prices increased slightly.

For comparison purposes, the Where We Stand table below uses data provided by CNT.2 The St. Louis MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) ranks 31st, tying with eight other regions, with a household at the median income level paying 46 percent of income on housing and transportation for the time period 2015-2019. The region continues to be considered relatively affordable, ranking just below the peer region average of 48. The costs in the region are a little more than what is considered affordable for the average household, but according to the CNT calculations, the region became more affordable, both overall and relative to other metropolitan regions. For the 2011 to 2015 time period, CNT estimated transportation and housing costs were about 50 percent of the median household income, ranking 28th among the peer regions.  

Geographic Level

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


1Center for Neighborhood Technology, About the Index, accessed on 7 July 2016 at http://htaindex.cnt.org/about/.

East-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. 


Data Sources

U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey, LEHD, AAA Your Driving Costs Brochure, National Transit Database, East-West Gateway Council of Governments