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Most people are not accustomed to thinking about housing affordability in terms of combined housing and transportation costs since there hasn’t before been a robust, standardized source of information about transportation costs at the neighborhood scale. These fictional narratives illustrate how families and organizations can use the Location Affordability Portal to make more informed decisions about where to live, work, and invest.

The Velencias

Rural Living on a Budget: Meet the Valencias

Louisa had always pictured her children growing up in the suburbs, but after she got engaged to her fiancé Hector Valencia, they began to consider moving to a more rural environment similar to where Hector grew up. They thought of Fort Hancock, as a real possibility: they both had family in the area, and Hector missed the cotton and alfalfa farms, the pecan trees, the 4-H fairs, and the Sunday dinners with cousins and friends.

After several visits to Fort Hancock, Louisa started to fall in love with the rural lifestyle and they began to consider purchasing a farm of their own. They have their eye on a 75-acre plot that’s in their budget and just a few miles down the road from his relatives. A few months later, Hector has started a farm management business and Louisa announces that she is expecting their first child. Despite their happiness and Hector’s early success, he worries that...

The Simons

The Simons: Retiring Close to Home

When Mary and Fred Simon moved to Fountain - a suburb of Colorado Springs - 25 years ago, they were recently married, had small children and thought they would live in Fountain for the rest of their lives. As their kids grew up and moved away, Mary and Fred began to notice that the town was changing, the population was diminishing. Tired of long, snowy winters, the couples with whom she and Fred had car-pooled, had weekend barbecues, and celebrated birthdays and graduations with were flocking to Arizona and New Mexico to retire and live in a place with warmer more predictable year-round weather.

As Mary and Fred begin to consider a move to Phoenix, they get some great news. Their son Tom has been hired by the Denver Fire Department and he and his wife were moving back to Colorado. The birth the following year...

The Velencias

The Larkins: Thinking Outside the Box and Inside the BeltLine

When Ron and Marie Larkin were first introduced to Lawrenceville in the early 2000s, they felt like they’d found the perfect place to raise their two girls, PJ and Brenda. The neighbors were friendly, the playground well-equipped, and a shopping center was only fifteen minutes away. They had moved to the area for Ron’s new job as a high school English teacher in Duluth, 11 miles away.

In recent years, though, Lawrenceville has lost some of its luster, new developments in the area have brought more traffic and longer commutes for Ron and Marie. Ron’s 25-minute commute now stretches to almost 40 minutes each way; on weekdays he now spends more time in his car than enjoying dinner with the family. Marie, now doing her nursing residency at Emory Hospital, spends even more time commuting – some weeks, she is on the road for...

Tamara Robinson

Turning Vacancies into Affordable Communities (Developing Affordable Housing)

Tamara Robinson loves working at River City Community Builders (RCCB), an affordable housing developer in a mid-sized, post-industrial city in the Frost Belt. As a Project Manager for the past three years, she’s advanced a number of projects that are helping meet the city’s affordable housing demand, and she’s gratified whenever she sees families succeed in housing she’s helped build.

Bob Peterson, RCCB’s CEO, calls Tamara into his office with an ambitious new project: creating a state-of-the-art development for both families and seniors that will make their firm the preeminent affordable developer in the region. As project lead, she’ll need to find a large enough piece of land for development, bring forward a proposal that pencils out financially before securing the constituent parcels, and then apply for Low Income Housing Tax Credits, all before...

Haley Lindstrom

21st Century Tools Reverse 20th Century Decline (Maximizing the Benefit from Federal Funds)

Haley Lindstrom loves her hometown. Her family settled in Lakeshore in the late 1800s when the Midwestern city was booming and stayed after the boom ended in the 1960s. For the past 50 years, Lakeshore has become known more for crumbling infrastructure and vacant storefronts than its tree-lined streets and Victorian houses. As Director of the Lakeshore Department of Community Development (LDCD), Haley is determined to bring her town back, one neighborhood at a time.

Haley and her colleagues at LDCD are optimistic about Lakeshore’s future, and with good reason. The region’s leading university and its prestigious teaching hospital are partnering to launch a new medical research hub, which is...

Jack Roberts

Transit Expansion: Stopping In Instead of Just Passing Through (Equitable Transportation Planning)

Jack Roberts is the director of the Valley Council of Governments (VCOG), a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and the main forum for regional decision-making in a region of roughly 3 million people on the west coast. The MPO receives and allocates funding; plans, engineers, and builds public transportation throughout the region; drafts regional strategic plans; and provides information on a range of topics relating to the region's quality of life. VCOG’s board includes representatives from the region’s 16 city and county governments.

Jack would describe his job simply as trying to improve the quality of life in the region. One way to do this is by...

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