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Transit-oriented development, Housing -- Economic aspects, Transportation -- Planning, Urban transportation policy, Affordable housing


The transportation and land use planning paradigm is shifting away from segregated uses connected by highways and roads to more compact, mixed-use developments connected by high-quality transit. This new paradigm has brought transit-oriented development (TOD) to the fore, and researchers continue to highlight advantages of this style of well-integrated land use and transportation planning. When it comes to affordability, what counts isn’t housing costs alone but the combination of housing plus transportation costs (H+T). If TODs do, in fact, command higher rents due to increased transit accessibility, this creates an issue of social equity, especially if higher housing costs are not offset by transportation-related cost savings. Promoting a development style that limits access for transit-dependent populations by pricing those residents out of the market could potentially be counterproductive. This study (Phase I) assesses rent premiums associated with living in TODs and answers the question of whether TOD-style development is affordable for low- and moderate-income households by first, compiling a complete 100% inventory of free-standing TODs in the U.S. It also identifies measures taken by decision-makers (mainly jurisdictions and transit operators) and TOD developers to make housing affordable for low- and moderate-income households. Our complete inventory has 183 potential TODs within 26 rail-served regions. Among them, 85 TODs within 23 regions meet our TOD criteria. Our analysis reveals that there is a significant level of variability across regions, TODs and individual housing projects within TODs in terms of numbers and shares of designated and naturally occurring affordable units. Overall, one-third of the TODs have units that are naturally affordable to families of two people who earn less than 80% of the area median income, one-fourth of the TODs have such units for families of four people, and only 15% of them offer the same to families of three people. Interestingly, 15% of the projects within TODs are 100% affordable, while 60% of the projects offer either less than 10% or none of their units as affordable. Finally, there are only a few measures designed to specifically promote/ incentivize/ regulate the production of affordable housing in TODs.


This is a final report, NITC-RR-1328 from the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) program of the Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) at Portland State University.

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