Location Efficiency and Affordability: A National Analysis of Walkable Access and HUD-Assisted Housing

Julia Koschinsky, Emily Talen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


As walkable neighborhoods are rapidly gaining popularity, these location-efficient areas are becoming less affordable to low-income tenants. We ask to what extent project- and tenant-based federal housing assistance is keeping these areas affordable and whether tradeoffs exist. Using descriptive statistical and logistic regression analysis for a data set of 3.8 million U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) tenants and a variety of neighborhood-level indicators, we find that HUD assistance provides tenants with differential access to walkable neighborhoods. Tenants who are senior, Asian, White, or have disabilities have higher chances of living in higher opportunity walkable areas. However, for those tenants with the greatest disadvantages (African American and Hispanic tenants), neighborhood quality remains compromised by higher poverty, segregation, and worse school quality, even in walkable neighborhoods. We identify the type of assistance (public housing, project-based rental assistance, and Housing Choice Vouchers) that is associated with compromised or higher opportunity access for these groups. This information can help prioritize assisted housing counseling, preservation, and siting to reduce existing spatial inequalities related to walkable amenity access, especially for African American and Hispanic tenants. This research also helps advance emerging research on the conceptualization and measurement of neighborhoods that integrates urban form and socioeconomic indicators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)835-863
Number of pages29
JournalHousing Policy Debate
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - Sep 2 2016


  • HUD-assisted housing
  • Location efficiency
  • affordability
  • built urban form
  • neighborhood quality
  • walkable access

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Urban Studies
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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