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How would you spend an extra $11,000 per year? Our last article was about the time and money people can save by avoiding the gridlock that goes with commuting. And about the social, environmental and economic importance of affordable places to live, near jobs, services and transportation.

In the past couple of weeks, with gas prices skyrocketing, the subject of commuting and money has become even more urgent. Last Friday, the American Public Transportation Association published a report about how much money people can save, on average, by taking the bus or train to work. In the Seattle area, the average savings is $973 per month. That’s a LOT of money!

You may ask yourself what this has to do with affordable apartments. So here it is, again: when we live far from work and services, we may save money on rent, but we spend more to commute. Think how much more of a home or apartment I could afford if I could save $973 per month on my commute!

But what about people who struggle to find the time or the money for the commute at all? How can people who work as cleaners, retail clerks, or child care givers, pay rent and transportation costs and have enough left over for other necessities? For many people the costs are unmanageable.

The answer? Affordable apartments close to jobs, services and public transportation.  Ask Joel M., who lives in a Housing Resources Group apartment building in Seattle’s First Hill neighborhood, which made it possible for him to accept a job in Queen Anne – he couldn’t have afforded to commute from where he used to live in Everett. Or talk to Kim D., a retired nurse whose HRG apartment is in the Denny Triangle neighborhood – she can walk everywhere, to the grocery store, to the library, to the doctor’s office…

Sounds good, doesn’t it? But too many people still pay more than they can afford for a place to live and the transportation they need. So how can we create and preserve affordable apartments in the city? How do communities make affordability happen? What are the challenges? Stay tuned.

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