Friday, February 27, 2009

Preserving Affordable Housing Near Transit

In a recent report, my day job with the National Housing Trust looked at the number of expiring section 8 and 202 units near fixed guideway transit stations in 8 cities. In these cities, 63% (65,000) of the units that are located within a half mile of the station will have their section 8 and section 202 housing contracts expire in 2012.

This is only eight cities with rail transit but when you think about the mobility that transit allows for people who already have a hard time, it's an even bigger deal when it disappears. A recent Center for Housing Policy report found that low and moderate income families spend as much or more on transportation than they spend on housing. So you can see why it would be important to preserve housing such as this near transit stations in order to give folks more opportunities than they would have if they lived on the periphery. There should be a concerted effort to preserve these affordable units near transit.

So imagine my hope rising when the MacAurthur Foundation along with Enterprise Community Partners pledged $3.5 million dollars to fund new and preserve affordable housing units in the Denver region near transit corridors.

ULC — a nonprofit group affiliated with the Denver Foundation that buys, preserves and develops urban real estate — is expected to be the sole borrower of the fund, and will be responsible for buying property for the TOD housing and partnering with local companies for site redevelopment.

For the TOD housing project, the ULC will target three types of properties — existing, federally assisted rental housing; unsubsidized rental properties; and properties that currently are vacant or used for commercial purposes that have desirable locations for new affordable housing.

This is a way to get out in front of the market. If used intelligently, much of the money could be used for landbanking along future transit corridors then provided to affordable housing developers who could never get in on the market later on. I hope this is replicated in other cities soon.


Robert said...

Keeping housing affordable near transit lines that will draw the upper and middle class as gas prices increase will be a key issue. Renewing the contracts of Section 8 properties is good -- if it's possible.

What about those with too high of an income to qualify for section 8 but with too low of an income to afford housing in gentrified areas?

Anonymous said...

This is totally the wrong approach. The way to make housing near transit affordable is to expand transit.

arcady said...

Anonymous: and expand housing. But you have to be careful here. It really doesn't make sense to build affordable housing. Housing becomes affordable once its construction costs are paid off.