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Preserving Affordable Housing Near Transit: Case Studies from Atlanta, Denver, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Reconnecting America, Enterprise and the National Housing Trust publish case studies examining what cities are doing to preserve affordable housing

Reconnecting America, Enterprise and the National Housing Trust have released a collection of case studies examining what cities are doing to ensure that affordable housing isn't lost as cities pursue transit-oriented development.

"Preserving Affordable Housing Near Transit: Case Studies from Atlanta, Denver, Seattle and Washington, D.C." describes ways metropolitan areas are addressing preservation challenges and opportunities, and identifies the strategies and tools communities can use to preserve affordable housing in transit-rich neighborhoods.

The builds on Reconnecting America's work with AARP and the National Housing Trust in "Preserving Affordability and Access in Livable Communities: Subsidized Housing Opportunities Near Transit and the 50+ Population."

"The findings of this report demonstrate that more than 250,000 privately owned, federally subsidized apartments exist within walking distance to quality transit in 20 metroropolitan areas. Nearly two-thirds of these apartments are covered by federal housing contracts set to expire over the next five years," the new report notes.

Beyond the impact on subsidized housing, the popularity of new developments convenient to transit pushes up the market rate for rentals. As rents rise lower income households are displaced. To reduce this impact on affordable housing, the report states that communities need to retool strategies to address opportunities and threats specific to preservation of affordable housing near transit.

Among the key findings of the report:

  • Affordable housing developers are turning to new sources of permanent capital subsidy, such as the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), Weatherization Assistance Program and local housing levies for funding.
  • CDCs and tenant organizations are tapping local zoning incentives and participating in pooled financing to access capital subsidies and low-cost funds.
  • Affordable housing developers seek flexible acquisition financing with repayment terms that allow them to hold at-risk properties near transit until refinancing or redevelopment is feasible.
  • Affordable housing developers see unsubsidized rental housing in transit corridors as a prime opportunity to secure long-term affordable housing near transit.
  • CDCs and community organizations are beginning to join larger conversations around coordinated regional planning and collaboration with housing, transit and planning agencies.

"Transit-oriented development, and the market pressures that go with it, pose new challenges for CDCs, community leaders and affordable housing developers," the report concludes. "By taking action to create or preserve housing options near transit, community leaders, CDCs and developers can ensure that people of all incomes can enjoy the benefits from transit investments."

The report identifies the basic steps necessary to perserve affordable rental housing near transit:

  1. Make an Affordable Housing Inventory
  2. Identify Acquisition Resources
  3. Assess Repositioning Resources
  4. Map Out Regional Strategies