I recently read an article on www.fastcompany.com that describes a program in Washington, D.C. that bribes people to move from the suburbs to downtown. Would you move from the suburbs to downtown Washington, D.C. for $12,000?
The Office of Planning in Washington, D.C. will match the employer contributions up to $6,000 to convince employees to move closer to work or public transit. They require you to move within two miles of their work, within a half mile of a Metro station, or within a quarter mile of a “high quality” bus corridor. Their reasoning is people who live closer to their work spend less time and money commuting, employers get the benefit of reduced parking costs and better on time and work performance, and the city gets revitalized neighborhoods and a wider tax base. Ultimately, the region sees less traffic congestion and air pollution.
Would you move to an inner city neighborhood for money to be closer to your work? Most of us pick a neighborhood for a variety of reasons. Some of the factors to consider are schools, housing affordability, amenities, distance and location, public transportation, and property values. What factors are important for you? Does it matter if you are married? What if your spouse works elsewhere? Do you have children? How do children fit in your decision? Does it matter if you will be further from your friends? Will the program pay for your moving company? Is $12,000 enough for you to consider the move?
Would you move to a half mile of a Metro station? In Washington, D.C. that may mean you have to be in the city limits. In some cities, it is very livable to live near a subway or train station. Remember, it is not enough to live by public transportation, you must use it. The purpose of incentive is to reduce traffic, parking and revitalize the city. Will you find a house in the city? Will you have to adjust to an apartment, loft, townhouse or penthouse? Can you find affordable housing in your city?
Okay, you agree to move and found a great place. How long will you stay there? Should the company require you stay for a certain length of time? Should there be a penalty if you quit your job? Do you see any personal benefit for you if you move besides saving gas? Would rent or buy? Will your rent or house payment be cheaper or more expensive? Will your property taxes be higher or lower? Are the schools better or worse? Will you send your children to private school?
Is this enough of an incentive to make you consider a move? Does it matter if you are single or married? Is this a good idea? Should the federal or local governments provide incentives to change behavior for the greater good of society? Would this really change neighborhoods or will people just find ways to qualify without moving? Do you think companies should just pay a portion of your public transportation costs? What do you think?
Photo by: Goodnight London
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