Reconnecting America People * Places * Possibility

Bay Area Transit-Oriented Affordable Housing Fund Earns EPA Recognition

Reconnecting America was honored to learn that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recognized the Bay Area Transit-Oriented Affordable Housing Fund (TOAH) as an honorable mention recipient of the 2012 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement in the category of Programs and Policies for TOAH’s work to provide financing for affordable housing development and community services throughout the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.

The Great Communities Collaborative (GCC) in the San Francisco Bay Area, of which Reconnecting America is a member, has worked for years to maximize equitable TOD opportunities. GCC commissioned the Center for Transit-Oriented Development (CTOD) and the Bay Area Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to conduct an initial feasibility study for a fund that would be targeted to acquiring properties near quality transit for the purposes of building and preserving affordable housing, mixed-use development and other community amenities. CTOD later created a final feasibility report. 

That work helped convince the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the MPO, to dedicate $10 million as top-loss funding as long as the fund managers could raise an additional $50 million from private sources. 

“Without MTC's initial investment, it is unlikely this would have been possible at all, let alone so quickly,” said Reconnecting America’s Chief of Staff Allison Brooks at the time of MTC's decision. Brooks sits on the advisory board of the fund, which helped select the fund manager and set the policy parameters and goals for the fund.

Thus far, the fund has provided loans for a 153-unit high-rise for low-income families located two blocks from a major transit station and for a 64-unit building for seniors close to a light rail station that will provide free transit passes for all residents.

“This fund demonstrates how the economic resources of multiple organizations can be leveraged to affect positive change in communities,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Using transportation funds to support affordable housing near public transportation is a smart, innovative strategy that can bring environmental benefits and serve as a model across the country.”

For more information on the 2012 Smart Growth winners, visit the EPA website.