Embrace the Beltway: D.C. Offers Residents $12,000 to Move Closer to Work

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Getty Images / Karen Bleier/AFP

A Metro train rolls into the McPherson Square station 08 in Washington, DC.

As part of a government effort to reduce traffic and pollution, Washington residents could be paid $12,000 to make their daily commute shorter.

The D.C. Office of Planning (OP) Live Near Your Work pilot program offers to match employer grants of up to $6000 per person for down payments and closing cost assistance to individuals. In order to be eligible for a grant, residents must live within half a mile of a Metro station or within a 1/4 mile of a high quality bus corridor (established by the OP based on ridership, service frequency, number of stops, and number of bus routes). Those who want maximum subsidization must move within 2 miles of their office.

(More on TIME.com: See TIME’s special report on intelligent cities)

The city has up to $200,000 total to administer during the program’s first phase, leading to criticism that the project may not be scalable because that budget only allows for a maximum of 60 residents to receive funds. Although granted, this is just a trial period. Still, some suggest that re-zoning and improving public transit may be a better and more cost-effective way to address the issue of pollution and make the city more liveable.

(More on TIME.com: Watch a video on mass transit in Los Angeles)