#164 Winter 2010-11 — TOD

Organizing for Inclusive TOD

Large-scale and small-scale transit-oriented development projects are popping up everywhere around the country, and in many places advocates are working to include affordable housing and other community priorities in the mix from the start.

Patrick Bennett Photography

The Village at Overlake Station, an affordable apartment complex integrated with a suburban bus station in Redmond, Wash.

Making It Work

In some places, affordability advocates are being highly proactive, working well ahead of time to put concrete permanent affordability options in place. The Atlanta BeltLine is a $2.8 billion light-rail project intended to create a network of parks, transit, and multi-use development along a 22-mile rail corridor, replete with 33 miles of bike and pedestrian trails. According to organizers, the project is expected to generate more than $20 billion of new economic development and approximately 30,000 new jobs throughout its 25 years of development. A network of community land trusts is being created to prevent displacement and ensure access to the BeltLine’s amenities for lower income residents (details on pages 12Ð28).

In places with fair share or inclusionary requirements in place, affordability advocates may just let them apply to TOD, letting the transit spur development in a

trickle-down fashion. New Jersey, for example, imposes a growth-share affordable housing mandate, requiring that at least one out of every five housing units created in a municipality be affordable and that one affordable housing unit must be provided for every 16 jobs created in a municipality, measured by new commercial development, so the new development likely to have been spurred by the increased transit service of the Access to the Region’s Core project would have automatically generated new affordable units near transit.

Some ARC-spurred TOD plans, like New Brunswick’s, included more than the minimum required number of affordable units — of less than 200, 38 were to be affordable. Whether or not projects like this would have been enough to counteract displacement from rising costs is unclear, however. Unfortunately, the $8.7-billion project, which would have doubled the number of daily commuter trains to New York City, has been cancelled by the state’s governor, Chris Christie, who cited potential cost overruns.


  • Building in Affordability

    February 8, 2011

    A range of existing policy tools can help preserve and expand affordable housing near planned transit stations -- but to have the most effect, they need to be put in place up front.

  • An Affordable BeltLine?

    February 8, 2011

    The Atlanta BeltLine brings much promise to the city of Atlanta, but will elevated housing costs be an unwelcome addition? Atlanta is looking to a community land trust to preserve affordability for the long-term near this new asset.

  • Can Lease-Purchase Save Us?

    February 8, 2011

    As developers struggle to find buyers for rehabbed affordable homes, many are looking to a lease-purchase model to expand the pool of potential owners. But lease-purchase is far more complicated than just an end-run around the credit crunch.