Most of the blogs I have written have been targeted to the general population of the West Piedmont Planning District, and have focused on carpooling and transit, though the COVID-19 pandemic has (at least temporarily) shifted focus a bit more toward socially-distant friendly modes such as telecommuting, walking, and bicycling. Apartment complexes represent one segment the RIDE Solutions program has not really focused on to any great extent, and if you are a landlord, if you represent a property management agency or organization, or a housing authority in the region, this blog is geared toward you and I ask you to please read on.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 – 2019 American Community Survey (ACS), the most recent population estimate of the West Piedmont Region which comprises Franklin, Henry, Patrick, and Pittsylvania counties, as well as the cities of Danville and Martinsville, is 240,421. There are an estimated 127,107 housing units in the region, of which 11,449, or 9 percent, comprise housing settings of at three units or more; the vast majority of these likely consist of rental housing. Based on these figures, the ratio of housing units to population yields approximately 1.89 persons per housing unit region-wide. With this information, we can assume that, roughly, over 20,000 individuals may reside in apartment dwellings.
It is generally accepted that a household is considered financially constrained if more than 30 percent of its income is allocated to housing. An estimate of housing data in the region, based on the 2015 – 2019 ACS, found that the median percentage of income tenants spent on their rental housing was 28.8 percent, based on computable figures. This indicates that many tenants are on the cusp of not being able to afford their rent. Further analysis reveals that while 3.7 percent of owner-occupied housing unit residents do not own a vehicle, an astounding 18.8 percent of tenants of renter-occupied units do not. Put another way, nearly one out of five renter-occupied households do not own a vehicle.
RIDE Solutions can be a solution for the tenants in our region trying to make ends meet. We provide a variety of transportation-related services to the communities we serve, namely:
- We provide a FREE PC- or mobile-based app that enables carpoolers to automatically match with other carpoolers going in a similar direction for either work or non-work trips.
- We provide information about public transit services in the region.
- For those who wish to bike or walk for work or non-work trips, we will provide information regarding the best route to get from “here to there.”
- We are a great repository for telework (work from home) resources to make workers’ and employers’ experiences more seamless and comfortable.
- BEST OF ALL, whenever a RIDE Solutions member logs an alternative trip (carpool/vanpool, transit, walking, bicycling, or telework) into the RIDE Solutions app, they will earn points toward rewards, and they get 1,000 points just for signing up! Rewards consist of discounts on shopping, food/restaurants, or entertainment; members can also use their points to enter raffle drawings which can net them great prizes such as generous gift cards. To learn about the kinds of rewards offered, please see my recent post on this topic here: https://ridesolutions.org/2021/01/06/ride-solutions-examples-of-great-discounts-for-your-green-commute/.
We encourage you to learn more about us by visiting www.ridesolutions.org. There is absolutely NO COST for anyone to become a RIDE Solutions member, and the only cost would be an informal agreement by which, in the case of a carpool arrangement, a rider agrees to chip in some money for gas.
If you think this program could help the tenants you serve, then I would welcome an opportunity to correspond with you via email, phone, or Zoom (or similar platform) to answer any questions you may have and to help you promote the program to your tenants, if possible. I can be reached via email at Jbonanno@wppdc.org or by phone at (276) 638-3987. Thank you!
West Piedmont Planning District RIDE Solutions Regional Coordinator
West Piedmont Planning District Commission Regional Planner