A new report finds that more intentional collaboration and smarter investments are necessary to extend the benefits of transit oriented development (TOD), such as healthy, walkable communities to households of every income level.
The report, “Filling the Financing Gap for Equitable Transit-Oriented Development,” identifies the systemic challenges of developing and financing equitable TOD projects — those that prioritize social equity and incorporate community services — and offers concrete national and regional capital and policy ideas to grow the sector.
Two national nonprofit leaders in equitable TOD financing, Enterprise Community Partners Inc. (Enterprise) and the Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), authored the paper, which was commissioned by the philanthropic collaborative Living Cities. Equitable TOD promotes development along public transit lines that includes elements that benefit lower income residents, such as affordable housing, health clinics, living wage jobs, fresh food markets, schools and childcare centers.
"Equitable transit-oriented development has the potential to improve the lives and prospects of low-income communities," said Robin Hacke, director of capital formation at Living Cities. "Our goal with this report is to help the field make these projects easier to finance and build. By dispelling the notion that successful TOD requires rocket science, we hope to see more cities implement these strategies successfully."
While shown to have significant potential economic, environment and health benefits for communities and residents, equitable TOD projects are generally complex, large-scale and require coordination among multiple parties. The paper looks at the lessons learned from four regions that have tackled equitable TOD projects: Atlanta, Denver, the Twin Cities and the San Francisco Bay Area.
Through research that included interviews with national and regional TOD experts, “Filling the Financing Gap for Equitable Transit-Oriented Development” uncovers challenges but also many promising solutions to advance equitable TOD, such as providing robust technical assistance and knowledge-sharing platforms; expanding the collaborative effort to make federal, state and local policy changes to encourage equitable TOD; and creating more equitable TOD demonstration programs across the country.
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