Jobs-Housing Balance

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The jobs-housing balance is the ratio of jobs to housing in a given metro sub-area. It could be considered at the metro/regional level, or that of a municipality, or that of a "commuteshed" or area linked by commuter transit means. 

If jobs-housing balance is too high, adequate housing may be unaffordable or unavailable to workers in that area, leading to issues such as housing unaffordability and traffic congestion from in-commuting workers.  if jobs-housing balance is too low, this may indicate inadequate job availability for area residents.
 

Origin, definition, purposes

The concept was apparently first published in Cervero [1989], focusing on congestion and environmental concerns attributable to increasing mismatch between the locations of job and of housing affordable to those holding those jobs 

Cervero [1989] abstract: 

"Despite the steady migration of jobs to the suburbs over the past decade, many suburban residents commute farther than ever. In this article I attribute the widening separation of suburban workplaces and the residences of suburban workers to several factors: fiscal and exclusionary zoning that results in an undersupply of housing; rents and housing costs that price many service workers out of the local residential market; and several demographic trends, including the growth in dual wage-earner households and career shifts. Case studies of metropolitan Chicago and San Francisco confirm the displacing effects of high housing costs and housing shortages. In addition, data from over 40 major suburban employment centers in the United States show that suburban workplaces with severe jobs-housing imbalances tend to have low shares of workers making walking and cycling trips and high levels of congestion on connecting freeways. I argue that inclusionary zoning, tax-base sharing, fair-sharing housing programs, and a number of incentive-base programs could reduce hobs-housing mismatches and go a long way toward safeguarding regional mobility for years to come."

Cervero describes the potential benefits of better job-housing balance as follows: 

"What benefits would accrue from balancing job and housing growth? For one, commute distances would be shortened and the share of nonmotorized trips, namely those made my walking and cycling, would increase. In addition, the number of miles logged on areawide roads each day would fall, as would energy consumption and the emission of vehicle pollutants. Perhaps equally important, jobs-housing balance would produce well-defined commutesheds wherein local neighborhood traffic is segregated from regional through-traffic...With shorter journeys, neighborhood streets would handle a greater share, albeit not necessarily a greater volume, of work trips while removing some cars from already over-burdened regional thoroughfares. Last, jobs-housing balance could promote larger social objectives. The provision of affordable housing closer to suburban job centers would vastly increase the residential opportunities of America's working class and would help reduce housing discrimination. In sum, many of the nation's most pressing and persistent metropolitan concerns -- congestion, energy depletion, air pollution, sprawl, and class segregation -- would be relieved by balancing job and housing growth." 

 

Housing affordability and adequate employment issues:  

When the goal is affordability, the jobs housing balance can be too high, or to low. If the ratio is too high, it means that employees have to commute into the metro area, because there are is not enough housing to accomodate all of the workers. Also, instead of commuting, people might crowd into housing that wasn't intended to house so many people, or live in RVs or in their cars on the roadways. 

On the other end, the jobs-housing balance can also be too low. If there is less than one job per housing unit, then that means that many people, who may have housing, will have trouble paying for it no matter how cheap it seems because the adults in the household have only part time work or no work at all.

According to the Building Industry Association, experts say that a healthy jobs-housing balance is 1.5. (One full time job and one part time job per housing unit.) ([1] BIA Bay Area Flyer, August 3, 2017)

Bay Area JH Balance 

Every seven years the Bay Area MTC creates "Plan Bay Area" which is a regional plan for housing growth. It assigns Bay Area regions housing growth targets based on expected job growth in each region. The BIA prepared a spreadsheet showing how well ten counties did in meeting their housing growth targets for the last seven years: June 2017 update Plan Bay Area progress (Spoiler, not well)

 

 


References:


 

  • Cervero Robert.1 "Jobs-Housing Balancing and Regional Mobility." APA Journal (American Planning Association), Spring 1989, p.136-150.  Reprint available at: http://escholarship.org/uc/item/7mx3k73h. 
    1University of California Transportation Center

Lucas, Scott. "

We found which Bay Area cities aren't pulling their weight on housing

by Scott Lucassf.curbed.com
October 12, 2016. 

https://sf.curbed.com/2016/10/12/12945854/bay-area-cities-jobs-housing-san-jose-palo-alto-sf

 

See also 

  • Jobs-Housing Fit - a refinement of the Jobs-Housing Balance concept that considers also the types of jobs and housing available.