D.C. City Government Considers “Cash for Close-in Urban Living”

The nation’s capital is proposing to use money from the Obama
administration’s economic stimulus law for a pilot program that would
give grants of up to $3,000 for suburban commuters to move closer to
transit or their place of work.

washington_metro_washington_d_c_dc123.jpgThe interior of a D.C. Metro station. (Photo: PlanetWare)

The Live Near Your Work grants being weighed by D.C. would use
$90,000 to offer incentives for 30 local workers to move within 1.5
miles of their office, a half-mile of a Metro rail station or a
quarter-mile of a bus stop.

The program would be an "experiment" along the lines of "cash for clunkers," the city’s Department of the Environment director told the Washington Examiner:

"The biggest driver of how much energy somebody uses is where they
live," said George Hawkins, DDOE director. "We’re trying to get people
to live closer to where they work. It’s not a lot of money, but it’s
something we want to pilot to see how it goes."

Incentive programs that aim to encourage work-accessible living patterns are already in place in Baltimore, Minneapolis, and Chattanooga, Tennessee.

  • DJB

    This sounds promising. One challenge is identifying a stable source of funding to make the program permanent (and expand it nationally). At the risk of sounding like a broken record may I suggest taxing fossil fuels? This would make it a double incentive: you move to avoid the higher expense of commuting and to take advantage of the subsidy.

    There’s no guarantee that living close to transit means people will use it (although it probably makes it more likely that they will, other things equal). Also, it doesn’t do much good to move close to your job for a month or something to cash in on a subsidy and then go right back to long-distance commuting.

    Therefore, it seems like it would be best to pay for the program through a carbon tax and require people to live within a certain radius of their job for some specific amount of time to get any subsidy (or base the amount of subsidy on the duration of residence) and possibly give a higher subsidy for living within that radius AND close to transit.

    On the other hand, what about people who are living close to work and transit already? Do they get anything?

  • This is a fantastic idea – Cyndi Lauper called it, money changes everything


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