Market rental housing affordability and accessibility to rapid transit in Montreal and Vancouver
Authors: Nicholas W. Revington
Housing affordability is a major issue in much of urban Canada, and particularly in the largest metropolitan areas. While measurements and rankings of housing affordability are widely publicized, they typically do not capture variations in affordability within metropolitan areas, where prices may vary significantly between, for instance, central cities and outer suburbs. One factor that can affect housing prices is access to mass transit, and rail rapid transit in particular, but existing research has not considered how this may impact affordability. From an ethical stance of redistributive equity, if housing is less affordable in transit-accessible places, low income people will be less able to access the rapid transit system and will be less well-off in comparison to middle and high income groups. This thesis applies a residual income approach – which considers housing affordable if it leaves a household with enough income to cover other basic needs – to data gathered from online rental listings in Montreal and Vancouver. It then examines how affordable market rental housing is distributed spatially within each city, and with respect to household composition and income. Looking through these “lenses,” the picture of affordability is different for different types of households. Indeed, for certain household types, no affordable housing was identified. At the metropolitan scale, housing was less affordable within rapid transit catchments in both cities, while at the level of urban/suburban zones, the results were mixed. The methods therefore present a nuanced measure of affordability that can be adapted in other contexts.
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Applied Economics , 4319-4332