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While Metro Vancouver housing costs are widely cited as among the most expensive in Canada, those costs alone are not what most often break a household’s budget, says a new study.The Metro Vancouver study adds the costs of housing and transportation to provide a more-complete picture and to broaden the definition of housing affordability.“This study clearly shows that living in proximity to rapid transit offsets housing costs,” said Director Richard Stewart, Chair of Metro Vancouver’s Housing Committee.“People who live farther from transit have higher car-related expenses that negate some of the savings they might gain from lower house prices,” he added.Surprisingly, the report reveals that housing affordability varies little across the Metro Vancouver region. “Some people opt to live in areas where housing prices are lower, often in areas outside or at a significant distance from the regional employment core and the regional transit system,” said Director Richard Walton, Chair of Metro Vancouver’s Regional Planning Committee.“These residents, therefore, mostly rely on cars for commuting to work and other daily needs, which can significantly increase their living costs,” he added.The report focuses on renters and home owners with particular attention to households earning less than $75,000 a year.“This study shows that low- and moderate-income households bear grossly disproportionate cost burdens,” said Director Walton. “Renters making under $50,000 a year face housing and transportation costs as high as 67 per cent of their pre-tax income, leaving them with little left for expenses including food, recreation, and child care.”High housing and transportation costs also make Metro Vancouver less competitive in attracting employees compared to other regions like Calgary and Ottawa where average monthly housing costs are generally lower, he noted.“The Mayors’ 10-year-plan, Regional Transportation Investments: A Vision for Metro Vancouver, supports expanding the reach of our region’s Frequent Transit Network, and that will help households be less car-dependent,” said Chair Moore.“The bottom line is that one of the most significant opportunities to improve housing affordability is to expand the Frequent Transit Network through the region,” he said.The study will be received by the Metro Vancouver Board on May 15 with a recommendation to share the report with the federal and provincial governments, Metro Vancouver municipalities, the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation, TransLink, the BC Non-Profit Housing Assoc., and the Better Transit and Transportation Coalition.