Cities

A Canary in the Mortgage Market? Why the recent FHA and GSE loan limit reductions deserve attention

A Canary in the Mortgage Market? Why the recent FHA and GSE loan limit reductions deserve attention
Furman Center White Paper

Madar, J. & Willis, M.A.
10/01/2011

On October 1, 2011, the maximum loan size eligible for Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insurance or a guarantee from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac (known as "Government-Sponsored Enterprises" or "GSEs") dropped in dozens of metropolitan areas around the country. When this change took effect, a segment of the mortgage market in each of these areas instantly lost some or all federal backing. If enough borrowers seeking loans in this segment are unable to find financing, the result will be further downward pressure on the corresponding segment of the housing market. In this report, we use recent mortgage origination data to explore some of the possible implications of this policy change for the housing market and the U.S. mortgage finance system.

Geographic Variations in Health Care Workforce Training in the US: The Case of Registered Nurses (RNs)

Geographic Variations in Health Care Workforce Training in the US: The Case of Registered Nurses (RNs)
Med Care. 2011 Aug;49(8):769-74.

Blustein, Jan.
08/01/2011

Background: In the United States, registered nurses [RNs] are trained through one of three educational pathways: a diploma course; an associate's degree, or a baccalaureate degree in nursing (the BSN). A national consensus has emerged that the proportion of RNs that are baccalaureate-trained should be substantially increased. Yet achieving that goal may be difficult in areas where college graduates are unlikely to reside.


Objectives: To determine whether the level of training of the hospital registered nurse [RN] workforce varies geographically, along with the education of the local general workforce.


Research design: Cross sectional, ecological study.


Subjects: Hospital nurses who participated in the National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses [NSSRN] in 2004 (n = 16,567).


Measures. Registered Nurse training was measured as Diploma, Associates degree, or Baccalaureate degree or above. County-level general workforce quality was assessed as the adult college graduation rate. Counties were divided into US population quartiles, with the highest quartile (Q4) having more than 29.3% college graduates, and the lowest quartile (Q1) having fewer than 16.93% college graduates.


Results: Hospital RNs have a higher level of training in counties where the general population is better
educated. For example, in Q4, 55.2% of hospital RNs are baccalaureate-trained, in Q3, 50.2%; in Q2,45.2%; and in Q1, 34.9% (p < .001 for all pairwise comparisons). The association between RN training and general workforce education is found in cities, towns and rural areas.

Conclusions: Nationwide, there are substantial geographic variations in the training of hospital RNs. Educational segregation (the tendency for educated people to cluster geographically) may make it more difficult to achieve a BSN-rich nursing workforce in some areas of the US. Further work is needed to assess whether educational segregation similarly influences the distribution of other health care professionals, and whether it leads to variations in the local quality of care.

More than Just Exercise: Walking in Today's Cities

More than Just Exercise: Walking in Today's Cities
August, 2011

Mondschein, Andrew
08/01/2011

Transportation planners, policymakers, urban designers, and activists have expended considerable effort over the past few decades promoting walking as one of several alternatives to driving.  More recently, the public health benefit of a physically active population, including a population that walks more often, has become another reason to encourage walking.  Amongst all of this excitement about walking, there has so far been little exploration of the role walking plays in people’s lives and cities’ welfare.  One little understood aspect of walking is its appeal beyond simple “derived demand” travel choice frameworks.  Though we might intuitively know that people walk for more than just to get from A to B, there’s been little to explain what people gain from walking beyond its potential health benefit.  An investigation of pedestrian behavior using the 2009 National Household Travel Survey suggests that the reasons that people choose to walk vary considerably across place and class, and that walking in urban areas may best be explained by a dual conceptualization of walking as the mode of last resort and a highly-prized urban amenity.  This seemingly self-contradictory dual role suggests that policies that want to encourage walking across a broad swath of the population will need to overcome barriers rooted in everyday lifestyles just as much as in the quality of the built environment.

Are Land Use Planning and Congestion Pricing Mutually Supportive? Evidence From a Pilot Mileage Fee Program in Portland, OR

Are Land Use Planning and Congestion Pricing Mutually Supportive? Evidence From a Pilot Mileage Fee Program in Portland, OR
Journal of American Planning Association, Vol. 77, 3, 232-250

Guo, Zhan, Asha W. Agrawal & Jennifer Dill
05/09/2011

Congestion pricing and land use planning have been proposed as two promising strategies to reduce the externalities associated with driving, including traffic congestion, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. However, they are often viewed by their proponents as substitutive instead of complementary to each other. Using data from a pilot mileage fee program run in Portland, OR, we explored whether congestion pricing and land use planning were mutually supportive in terms of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) reduction. We examined whether effective land use planning could reinforce the benefit of congestion pricing, and whether congestion pricing could strengthen the role of land use planning in encouraging travelers to reduce driving.

VMT data were collected over 10 months from 130 households, which were divided into two groups: those who paid a mileage charge with rates that varied by congestion level (i.e., congestion pricing) and those who paid a mileage charge with a flat structure. Using regression models to compare the two groups, we tested the effect of congestion pricing on VMT reduction across different land use patterns, and the effect of land use on VMT reduction with and without congestion pricing. With congestion pricing, the VMT reduction is greater in traditional (dense and mixed-use) neighborhoods than in suburban (single use, low-density) neighborhoods, probably because of the availability of travel alternatives in the former. Under the same land use pattern, land use attributes explain more variance of household VMT when congestion pricing is implemented, suggesting that this form of mileage fee could make land use planning a more effective mechanism to reduce VMT. In summary, land use planning and congestion pricing appear to be mutually supportive.

For policymakers considering mileage pricing, land use planning affects not only the economic viability but also the political feasibility of a pricing scheme. For urban planners, congestion pricing provides both opportunities and challenges to crafting land use policies that will reduce VMT. For example, a pricing zone that overlaps with dense, mixed-use and transit-accessible development, can reinforce the benefits of these development patterns and encourage greater behavioral changes.

 

Climate Change and Urban Transportation Systems

Climate Change and Urban Transportation Systems
in Urban Climate Change Research Network (UCCRN), First UCCRN Assessment Report on Climate Change in Cities (ARC3), edited by C. Rosenzweig, W. D. Solecki, S. A. Hammer, and S. Mehrotra. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2011, forthcoming, pp. 143- 182.

S. Mehrotra (Nairobi, Mexico City), B. Lefevre (Paris), R. Zimmerman (New York City, Coordinating Lead Authors and H. Gercek, K. Jacob, and S. Srinivasan.
05/01/2011

Climate Change and Human Health in Cities

Climate Change and Human Health in Cities
in Urban Climate Change Research Network (UCCRN), First UCCRN Assessment Report on Climate Change in Cities (ARC3), edited by C. Rosenzweig, W. D. Solecki, S. A. Hammer, and S. Mehrotra. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2011, forthcoming, pp. 183-217

M. Barata (Rio de Janeiro), E. Ligeti (Toronto), Coordinating Lead Authors and G. De Simone (Rio de Janeiro), T. Dickinson (Toronto), D. Jack (New York City), J. Penney (Toronto), M. Rahman (Dhaka), and R. Zimmerman (New York City.)
04/01/2011

Mind the Map! The Impact of Transit Maps on Path Choice in Public Transit

Mind the Map! The Impact of Transit Maps on Path Choice in Public Transit
Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Vol. 45, 7, 625–639

Guo, Zhan
04/01/2011

This paper investigates the impact of schematic transit maps on passengers' travel decisions. It does two things: First, it proposes an analysis framework that defines four types of information delivered from a transit map: distortion, restoration, codification, and cognition. It then considers the potential impact of this information on three types of travel decisions: location, mode, and path choices.1 Second, it conducts an empirical analysis to explore the impact of the famous London tube map on passengers' path choice in the London Underground (LUL). Using data collected by LUL from 1998 to 2005, the paper develops a path choice model and compares the influence between the distorted tube map (map distance) and reality (travel time) on passengers' path choice behavior. Results show that the elasticity of the map distance is twice that of the travel time, which suggests that passengers often trust the tube map more than their own travel experience on deciding the ‘‘best'' travel path. This is true even for the most experienced passengers using the system. The codification of transfer connections on the tube map, either as a simple dot or as an extended link, could affect passengers' transfer decisions. The implications to transit operation and planning, such as trip assignments, overcrowding mitigation, and the deployment of Advanced Transit Information System (ATIS), are also discussed.

Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in North American Cities

Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in North American Cities
Available on line January 7, 2011, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Vol. 3, 2011, pp. 181-187 doi:10.1016/j.cosust.2010.12.004

R. Zimmerman and C. Faris.
01/07/2011

Climate change mitigation and adaptation action plans are developing at a rapid pace, being driven by both local initiatives and emerging alliances and support organizations that cut across multiple jurisdictions. These plans include a broad range of approaches, many of which are evolving into best or leading practices and which will be increasingly used as a model for the plans of other locales. This paper draws attention to several best practices in both mitigation and adaptation for North American cities, and also highlights many of the supporting alliances and groups that disseminate key practices and drive potential synergies. Additionally, it is noted that despite the increasing rate of plan development, a continuing need exists for increased attention to adaptation at the local level.

Assessing the cost of transfer inconvenience in public transport systems: A case study of the London Underground

Assessing the cost of transfer inconvenience in public transport systems: A case study of the London Underground
Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Vol. 45, 2, 91-104

Guo, Zhan and Nigel H.M. Wilson
01/03/2011

Few studies have adequately assessed the cost of transfers in public transport systems, or provided useful guidance on transfer improvements, such as where to invest (which facility), how to invest (which aspect), and how much to invest (quantitative justification of the investment). This paper proposes a new method based on path choice,3 taking into account both the operator's service supply and the customers' subjective perceptions to assess transfer cost and to identify ways to reduce it. This method evaluates different transfer components (e.g., transfer walking, waiting, and penalty) with distinct policy solutions and differentiates between transfer stations and movements.

The method is applied to one of the largest and most complex public transport systems in the world, the London Underground (LUL), with a focus on 17 major transfer stations and 303 transfer movements. This study confirms that transfers pose a significant cost to LUL, and that cost is distributed unevenly across stations and across platforms at a station.

Transfer stations are perceived very differently by passengers in terms of their overall cost and composition. The case study suggests that a better understanding of transfer behavior and improvements to the transfer experience could significantly benefit public transport systems.

 

To Leave An Area After Disaster: How Evacuees from the WTC Buildings Left the WTC Area Following the Attacks.

To Leave An Area After Disaster: How Evacuees from the WTC Buildings Left the WTC Area Following the Attacks.
Risk Analysis, Vol. 31, Issue 5, 2011, published on line December 8, 2010. doi:10.1111/j.1539-6924.2010.01537

R. Zimmerman and M. Sherman.
01/01/2011

How people leave a devastated area after a disaster is critical to understanding their ability to cope with risks they face while evacuating. Knowledge of their needs for communications about these risks is particularly crucial in planning for emergency responses. A convenience sample of 1,444 persons who survived the World Trade Center (WTC) attacks on September 11, 2001 were surveyed to ascertain their initial and ultimate destinations once they had left the buildings, how they arrived there, the role of types of obstacles they encountered, and the need for information and the seeking of other people as potential factors in influencing the process of leaving immediately. This survey was part of a larger, original survey. Results showed differences in how people traveled by mode to initial and ultimate destinations, how immediately they left the area, and factors associated with when they left. How they traveled and when they left were associated with where people lived, their tendency in times of stress to seek out other people including who they knew in the immediate area (e.g., co-workers or friends), the physical conditions surrounding them, and the importance to some of waiting for more information. Many people indicated they did not leave immediately because they had no information about where to go or what services would be available to them. Perceptions and communications about risks they were facing were reflected in the choices they considered in how and when to leave the area. These findings have numerous ramifications for understanding and guiding personal behavior in catastrophic situations.

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