For many of us, transit is simply a means to an end—a way to get from
one place to another. So you may be asking yourself, “What does
transit have to do with community development?” After all, community
development seeks to improve the economic security and well-being of
low- and moderate-income (LMI) individuals through efforts such as affordable
housing, workforce development or access to financial services; transportation
has not historically been part of the picture. But the growing practice of transitoriented
development (TOD) is beginning to shed light on the inextricable
link between transit and housing affordability, economic opportunity, health
outcomes, and social equity for LMI households. TOD generally refers to a mix
of development types, including housing, retail and/or commercial development
and amenities, located within a half-mile radius of quality public transportation.
But in a broader sense, TOD represents a new model for community development
that can improve regional connectivity and reduce the social and economic
isolation that many LMI communities face.
With TOD gaining prominence across the country, changes at the national policy
level are starting to take place which could have direct implications for the
community development field. For example, Secretary Shaun Donovan of the
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently announced
that HUD will begin to score grant applications on their location efficiency—the
degree to which residents are connected to jobs, schools, and other amenities
through accessible transit options—a first for any federal grant program. Thus,
while transit may not have been a community development priority in the past,
it may become a more prominent aspect of the field in the future.
In this issue of Community Investments, we explore TOD and its implications for
LMI individuals and communities. The articles provide an introduction to basic
TOD concepts and their relevance to community development, and also explore
more in-depth issues, such as how transit affects economic opportunities for LMI
workers and the interrelationship between transit and schools. We also examine
equity issues in TOD and transit funding, and highlight models for protecting the
interests of LMI communities affected by TOD. Exploring other topic areas, the
Eye on Community Development reports on lessons learned from the recently
concluded Community Financial Access Pilot administered by the U.S. Treasury
and Dr. CRA takes a look at how banks get credit for their NSP activities.
While TOD may be a new area for many of you, we hope that this issue of
Community Investments encourages you to delve more deeply into opportunities that lie in the intersections between transit and community development. As always, we welcome your comments and feedback, and hope that you enjoy
this issue of CI.