How Climate Policy Impacts America’s Housing Crisis

Today, American cities nationwide—from San Francisco to Miami—are challenged with an undeniable housing crisis. 

A lack of affordable housing in America’s urban regions, where economic and social activity is increasingly concentrated, has caused housing costs to rise to unaffordable levels for the average American worker. This has resulted in workers fleeing urban cores, forced to find housing that is affordable—usually found in the far reaches and periphery of urban regions. This has led to longer commutes and a lessening in quality of life for these Americans.

Another factor that should and must be considered by American cities and policy makers at all levels of government is the impact America’s housing crisis is having on climate change. 

Due to the long commutes workers are forced to endure on a weekly basis to work and provide for their respective livelihoods, carbon pollution and the collective carbon footprint of the United States is worsening. This is a legitimate challenge that progressive leaders in San Francisco should be worried about, and a threat that leaders in Miami—a city already threatened by sea level rise—should take seriously as they debate the future of transit mobility in South Florida’s largest municipality. 

Transit policy is climate policy. That’s why efforts to improve transportation and build transit networks comprehensive in nature should be welcomed by stakeholders of urban communities. When cities are served by robust, efficient, and modern transit systems, quality of life is not only improved for all stakeholders due to the direct benefit of reliable transit, but also by the indirect benefit of decreased levels of carbon pollution in their respective communities and regions of the country.

Given the rising cost of housing in urban areas, transit options to suburbs and communities of which working class Americans occupy must be served with quality transportation — for every American is deserving of quality transit options, especially those who need it most.

The housing crisis has caused transit cost is skyrocket for America’s working class — with cost of gas, car maintenance and insurance  coverage costing thousands per year. It’s a high cost most Americans endure, but at great economic peril. Today, a majority of Americans are financially strained, with broad swaths of America’s population unable to afford even the most basic of emergencies (broken down cars, weather events, new tires, etc). 

We have no choice but to act. 

As Americans, we must embrace the promise of effective policy making, champion the investment and improvement of transit networks nationwide, and modern urban planning for today’s needs — for America’s future as a leader in all aspects of human life will be dependent on its collective ability to address these challenges and build economic and social institutions rooted in the ideals of empowerment and inclusion of all peoples.