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CTOD & Reconnecting America Reports

Tools for Mixed-Income TOD

Tools and strategies used to create mixed-income and affordable housing near transit

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate and disseminate examples of tools and strategies from around the country that are being used to create mixed-income and affordable housing near transit. Through this report, we hope to encourage more communities, regional agencies, state and federal government, and developers to adopt and improve upon the successful strategies, and to spur ideas for other tools that do not yet exist.

The first half of the paper explains the general areas and ways in which the tools are used, as well as any limitations that currently exist, and the second half provides best practices and an actual example of the strategy or tool in a transit-oriented development.

Tools for Mixed-Income TOD

The Affordability Index

A New Tool for Measuring the True Affordability of a Housing Choice

This brief describes a new information tool developed by the Urban Markets Initiative to quantify, for the first time, the impact of transportation costs on the affordability of housing choices. This brief explains the background, creation, and purpose of this new tool. The first section provides a project overview and a short summary of the method used to create the Affordability Index. The next section highlights the results from testing the index in a seven-county area in and around Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN. To demonstrate the usefulness of this tool at a neighborhood level, the third section projects the effect of transportation and housing choices on three hypothetical low- and moderate-income families in each of four different neighborhoods in the Twin Cities. The brief concludes with suggested policy recommendations and applications of the new tool for various actors in the housing market, and for regulators, planners, and funders in the transportation and land use arenas at all levels of government.

The Housing and Transportation Affordability Index is a groundbreaking innovation because it prices the trade-offs that households make between housing and transportation costs and the savings that derive from living in communities that are near shopping, schools, and work, and that boast a transit-rich environment. Built using data sets that are available for every transit-served community in the nation, the tool can be applied in neighborhoods in more than 42 cities in the United States.1 It provides consumers, policymakers, lenders, and investors with the information needed to make better decisions about which neighborhoods are truly affordable, and illuminate the implications of their policy and investment choices.

The Affordability Index: A New Tool for Measuring the True Affordability of a Housing Choice

A Heavy Load

The combined housing and transportation burdens of working families (2006)

Nationally, for every dollar a working family saves on housing, it spends 77 cents more on transportation. This was one of the dramatic findings from the Center’s earlier study, Something’s Gotta Give, which reflects the basic tradeoff many working families face between paying a greater share of their income for housing or enduring long commutes and high transportation costs. But how does this tradeoff play out at the local level? Are there metropolitan areas in which this tradeoff is more or less pronounced? Where do working families end up living within each area, and how does the availability of housing affect their choices? And how does the varying cost of housing and transportation within a region affect families’ combined housing and transportation burdens?

Value Capture: How to Get a Return on Investment in Transit and TOD

Summary of options for capturing value of transit and TOD before they're built (2003)

The maxim is that when looking for a new home or business the three most important considerations are: location, location, location. As traffic makes it increasingly difficult to drive in downtowns, as downtowns become increasingly popular with both residents and businesses, and as new transit systems open up in downtowns across the U.S., an address near transit is proving to be a good one. Empirical evidence that transit and TOD create significant value is mounting. It has to do with economies of agglomeration and the efficiencies created: Some things work better when clustered together. And with “killer commutes” tying up 10 million drivers two hours a day in traffic, it works best when they’re clustered around transit.

The fact that condo sales have outpaced the sale of single family homes is proof the market is changing. Smaller, non-traditional households without children want to live in convenient neighborhoods. In cities, the road network has reached a level of connectivity best described as “saturated,” and returns on that investment are diminishing. But transit still offers net benefits, in part because it concentrates development -- and the tax base – allowing for more focused value capture strategies. And in this era of shrinking public funding and expansive demand, value capture strategies are needed to help pay for construction and operation of transit and expensive TOD components like structured parking.

Value Capture: How to Get a Return on Investment in Transit and TOD

Hidden In Plain Sight

Capturing the Demand for Housing Near Transit (September 2004, revised April 2005)

There are tremendous shifts occurring nationally in demographics, consumer preferences, employer location strategies and transportation infrastructure investments. Consumers are choosing smaller, more compact housing in neighborhoods where shops and services are within walking distance, and where highquality transit service is an option. While these trends have been documented and in some cases even quantified, there have been few attempts to calculate their impact on the demand for higher-density housing near transit. The Center for Transit-Oriented Development has built a national demand estimate for housing within a half mile of fixed guideway transit stops through 2025 for the 27 regions that currently have transit systems, as well as for 15 regions that are seeking to build new fixed-guideway systems by 2025 using the FTA New Starts program. This estimate is based on household demand projections for each region that capture the effect of different demographic trends in different metropolitan areas. Because the study considers only the half-mile radius around transit stations, a readily definable area but not the total area that can accommodate transit-oriented development, this is a relatively conservative estimate of potential demand for TOD in 2025. Studies have shown that people will ride transit from beyond the half mile if they have good feeder bus service or bike access. Development around these access modes could also be considered transit-oriented development. Inclusion of these areas would offer a more complete assessment of the demand for housing near transit, but is beyond the scope of this study.

Transit-Oriented Development

Moving From Rhetoric to Reality (June 2002)

Three major trends characterize metropolitan America at the beginning of the 21st Century. The first trend is the resurgence of investment in America’s downtown areas. We are seeing a re-inhabitation of our urban centers at a level that has not been experienced since the World War II. Data from the 2000 Census and analysis by the Brookings Institution Urban Center and the Fannie Mae Foundation show that this urban rebirth is a function both of people moving back to cities, and of immigrants choosing cities as destinations. Urban centers are once again seen as attractive, lively places to live and work, and as centers of intellectual and creative capacity.

The second equally powerful trend is the continuing growth and emerging maturity of America’s suburbs, many of which are struggling to become cities in their own right. Suburban areas are increasingly diverse in race, ethnicity and income, and increasingly experiencing the travails of rapid growth. These growth issues include the need to diversify land uses to build more solid revenue bases, the need to create urban centers, and the growing problem of traffic congestion along overtaxed suburban arterials, compounded by the many cul de sac neighborhoods. Suburbs are increasingly vital and also increasingly challenged to become more than bedroom communities.

TOD in the USA

The Implementation of TOD in Four Metropolitan Regions (April 2004)

This paper assesses the progress of transit-oriented development in four metropolitan regions – Atlanta, the Bay Area, Chicago and Denver. The shared "lessons learned" include the following: early planning is essential; upfront work on zoning, parking and codes can entice the market; and the planning and entitlements process needs to be made more developer-friendly. One conclusion is that TOD represents a paradigm shift toward a more integrated and interdisciplinary way of solving problems.

TOD in the USA

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