Recommended Reading
Winter 2010-11
Volume 6, Number 2

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Mixed-Income Transit-Oriented Development Action Guide (2010)

By Reconnecting America, the Center for Transit-Oriented Development & Strategic Economics

The Mixed-Income Transit-Oriented Development (MITOD) Action Guide is an online tool that takes communities through a step-by-step analysis designed to help retain and increase lower income TOD housing as well as to optimize the benefits that can be gained through careful planning. TODs can bring a number of benefits: increased transit ridership, less regional congestion, lower parking demands, and walkable neighborhoods where residents can live and all can work and recreate. However, unless care is taken during the planning and execution of TOD, redevelopment can have an unintended consequence—the loss of affordable housing. Reconnecting America and the Center for Transit-Oriented Development, together with Strategic Economics, have crafted the MITOD Action Guide to help communities preserve and expand affordable housing while promoting TOD. The MITOD Action Guide helps stakeholders evaluate their initial perceptions about a TOD location, analyze existing conditions, recognize opportunities and determine strategies, all with the purpose of developing a MITOD plan.

MITOD can help to lessen income segregation and provide job and other economic opportunities to lower income residents. When communities well served by transit redevelop a range of housing products, they can benefit from the synergies made possible by a mix of different household incomes. MITOD can provide truly affordable housing by allowing residents to minimize the two largest household costs—housing and transportation. Transit providers can benefit through greater stability in transit ridership affordable by MITOD, as lower income households utilize transit more frequently than others, often traveling during non-peak times as well as for commuting purposes. Employers also can benefit from MITOD as it provides access to a more diverse job employment pool, and can help to improve retention and reduce tardiness through predictable travel.

Preserving Affordability and Access in Livable Communities: Subsidized Housing Opportunities near Transit and the 50+ Population (2009)

By the AARP
with Reconnecting America and the National Housing Trust

TOD planners should take note of a study released last fall by the AARP, with Reconnecting America and the National Housing Trust. The report surveyed federally-subsidized affordable housing in 20 cities, including New York City and Philadelphia, and found that a significant number of Section 8 and Section 202 units are presently located in close proximity to transit, but raised concern about the continued affordability of many of these units.

Specifically, of the 400,000 units identified, more than 250,000 were within half a mile of rail or bus rapid transit (BRT), of which nearly 200,000 were within a quarter mile. Unlike traditional public housing, which tends to be located in its own dedicated buildings, Section 8 and Section 202 apartments are generally located in private buildings, with landlords who have entered into contracts to participate in the program for a period of time. With such units heavily concentrated in transit-oriented locations, the growing popularity of such neighborhoods could prompt their landlords to opt-out en masse, as the present contracts expire. About 70 percent of current agreements will expire by 2014.

If such a trend develops, the tenants of these units—especially seniors—will be hit hard by displacement from the transit-proximity of their current homes. To head off a crisis, the report outlines a number of strategies that officials could pursue to preserve the stock of affordable units in TOD locations. Some of these include ensuring that federal subsidy rates reflect increases in market rents, developing more housing units in TOD locations, and developing better transit options in neighborhoods with lower market rents.

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