Community Investments Vol 22, Issue 2
CI Notebook

Summer 2010

Author(s): Laura Choi

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.

Other articles in this issue

The Role of Transportation Planning and Policy in Shaping Communities

Weaving Together Vibrant Communities through Transit-Oriented Development

Making the Connection: Transit-Oriented Development and Jobs

Linking Transit-Oriented Development, Families and Schools

Equipping Communities to Achieve Equitable Transit-Oriented Development

Stronger Transit, Better Transit-Oriented Development

Community Financial Access Pilot: Creating Templates for Expanding Financial Opportunities

Research Briefs

Doctor CRA

Data Snapshot: Transportation and Households