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Mobility directly impacts access to opportunities for all protected classes; however, transportation planning and public transit agencies and housing authorities rarely coordinate affordable housing and the transportation system planning decisions. This lack of coordination often leads to mismatches between access to opportunities and affordable housing. Safe access to employment, quality schools, and healthcare represent a few of the many factors that may influence housing choice. For most households with budget constraints, all of these factors may not be achievable. While existing research documents the mismatch between affordable housing and access to opportunities, the role that mobility plays in residential selection and the possible transportation barriers in access to essential services remains under investigated. The primary objective of this research was to investigate the role that a household’s primary and secondary mobility (i.e., using auto, public transit, social network, walking, etc. to access activities) plays in the housing location choice of immigrants and refugees. The secondary objective was to craft a methodology for producing an access to opportunity index relevant to the study population. The study investigated the importance of community cohesion and other social structures in the decision-making process, thereby providing greater clarification of the burdens encountered by immigrants, refugees, and other protected classes when affordable housing and the transportation system planning remain uncoordinated and fail to address the needs of transportation disadvantaged households. Our qualitative study was conducted in Dallas County, TX, where almost one quarter of the 2.6 million population were born outside the United States. We identified, with the assistance of community partners that serve immigrants and refugees, study participants who were planning to move and those who had recently moved from their initial residence following their arrival in Dallas County to a residence they have considered and selected. We collected qualitative data about the factors and values that drove transition decisions such as transit options, housing costs, proximity to health and mental healthcare, safe neighborhoods, access to quality education, employment proximity, community cohesion or distance, among others. We conducted a conventional content analysis of interviews from 32 participants and found three themes (and several sub-themes). These were: Theme 1) The Multiple Dimensions of Home; Theme 2) The Neighborhood Experience, and; Theme 3) Barriers and Bridges to Opportunity. We present method and findings related to the access to opportunity index using both transit and auto modes from Dallas County block groups. Then, we discuss recommendations for policy and practice that promote the coordination of transportation planning and housing choice for immigrants and refugees in Dallas County and the implications for other transportation-disadvantaged populations in other locations.


This is a final report, NITC-RR-1477, from the NITC program of TREC at Portland State University, and can be found online at:
The Project Brief associated with this research can be found at:



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