Growing Mixed-Income TOD
As TOD planning processes proliferate there is a broader understanding that mixed-income housing supports many TOD goals including stable transit ridership, better public health, broadened access to opportunities, and deeper affordability. This Mixed-Income TOD Action Guide was developed for the nonprofit Great Communities Collaborative (GCC), which is working in the San Francisco Bay Area to ensure TOD planning processes result in neighborhoods that include households of all income levels. The guide “walks” users through a three-step analysis to determine the most effective strategies and tools.
The first step involves collecting data on the community’s demographics and economic and physical conditions (an inventory of the housing stock and land supply, for example). The second step is a “needs and opportunities” assessment that asks questions such as “Which populations are currently underserved?” “Is the housing market hot or cold?” “Is the emphasis on housing preservation or production, or both?” “Is affordable housing in the process of being built now?” These two steps help users match their community with one of several scenarios, each of which comes with recommendations for a suite of strategies and tools.
In scenario one, for example, the underserved population might be households that need affordable housing; the market is “warmer”; the emphasis is on development not preservation; and important policies to promote mixed-income housing are missing. Communities fitting this scenario could benefit from inclusionary zoning, land-acquisition assistance including public land dedication and write-downs, and joint public/private development. The cost of housing production could be reduced through lower parking requirements, fast-track permitting, fee waivers and appropriate regulatory requirements for small sites. Housing preservation is also recommended, by limiting condo conversions and offering first right-of-refusal to nonprofits or limited-equity co-ops that could purchase existing multifamily housing. Also recommended is targeted affordable homeownership assistance for current residents in transit districts, continued assistance for existing subsidized housing, and that steps are taken to ensure that Section 8 contracts don’t expire.
The Mixed-Income Housing TOD Action Guide, which was assembled by the Center for Transit-Oriented Development, is available as a downloadable PDF here. The Center for Transit-Oriented Development is a partnership of Reconnecting America, the Center for Neighborhood Technology, and Strategic Economics.