Transit struggle: Holding onto affordable housing
As rail and rapid bus service expands, rising prices along transit routes pose a threat to inexpensive housing.
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Across America, rail and bus rapid transit (BRT) lines have proliferated during the past decade. Los Angeles will have a total of 71 light-rail and BRT stations operating by the end of this year. The Boston region is extending heavy rail for the first time in a quarter-century. Rapid transit has been growing significantly in many metropolitan areas.
One beneficial result: Cities and suburbs are getting—or anticipate getting—new concentrations of housing, offices, and retail around many of the stations.
But advocacy groups such as Reconnecting America and its Center for Transit-Oriented Development see a problem: As growing numbers of middle- and upper-income Americans choose to live within walking distance of transit, the price of housing near rail and BRT lines is rising and may well escalate.
On May 16, Reconnecting America and the City of Los Angeles Housing Department released a report warning of “unfortunate side effects if efforts aren’t made to preserve affordable housing in transit-rich neighborhoods.” The report, Preservation in Transit-Oriented Districts, was the latest in a series of studies identifying this danger either nationally or in particular locales.
• A 2009 report from Reconnecting America and the National Housing Trust—a nonprofit organization that advocates for affordable housing near transit—counted more