Earlier this month, Enterprise convened the annual meeting of our Real Estate Leadership Council, a group of for-profit developers that helps Enterprise navigate the challenges of meeting its goal of creating housing for low- and moderate-income people. As part of the meeting, we toured Southeast D.C, east of the Anacostia River. This area struggles with high levels of poverty and unemployment but remains one of the few pockets of market-rate housing that is affordable to the District’s workforce. There are also a large number of public and assisted housing units in the area, which is well-served by transit.
Southeast D.C. will soon be home to thousands of additional jobs as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) relocates its headquarters to the site of a former hospital campus. While increased employment opportunities are greatly needed, this addition to the community can lead to negative consequences if not managed correctly—namely, increased housing costs and the displacement of existing residents who could benefit from economic growth related to the transit and DHS investments. In response, local community developers, including the faith-based community, have stepped in to preserve affordable and workforce housing opportunities through mechanisms like transit-oriented development (TOD).
TOD projects are generally more difficult and costly to undertake, given the escalation of property values and the typically long time frame required for building transit. Successfully undertaking transit-oriented affordable housing and community development requires two things: flexible financing and coordinated planning and investment.
Enterprise is working to address the cost issue by setting up TOD-specific affordable housing financing, such as the Denver TOD Fund. We are also a partner in the Bay Area Transit-Oriented Affordable Housing Fund in Northern California, and we are working with local leaders to provide financing in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
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