Earlier this year, a speaker at the National Inclusionary Housing Conference noted that the performance of a housing policy or program can no longer be measured simply by the number of homes created or preserved. These days, the measure of a successful housing program must also account for effective multitasking, strategically leveraging every dollar and opportunity to simultaneously achieve multiple goals.
This has special relevance in communities planning to develop or expand light rail and other public transit systems. While working families often have the most to gain from access to low-cost transportation alternatives, experience has shown that land costs near planned stations often escalate rapidly in anticipation of new transit investments, and failure to act early and build in affordability at the outset can make it extremely difficult and costly to preserve and expand housing affordable to working families and others along transit corridors. A similar dynamic may apply to the areas around existing transit stations—and to village and town centers—that are the focus of reinvestment and redevelopment.
Fortunately, several policies that have long been part of the traditional affordable housing toolbox can also be employed to ensure that affordability is “built in” to development within walking distance of new transit stations, as well as to other areas experiencing reinvestment and redevelopment. With careful planning, these tools can be incorporated into the framework for new development, ensuring that individuals and families at all income levels can benefit from improved access to transit and the other amenities that are offered in these emerging communities of opportunity.
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