Housing Market Tools
Changes in housing markets are a key indicator of neighborhood change in transit-rich neighborhoods. In many newly transit-served neighborhoods both rents and housing values rise sharply and additional market-rate ownership housing is built. In order to address the underlying causes of gentrification and undesirable patterns of neighborhood change in transit-rich neighborhoods, housing market tools should include:
Funding for land and property acquisition:
Because transit stations are planned and built over many years, land and property values often begin to rise even before the new station opens its doors. To keep projects affordable, developers must have access to financing before land and properties become too expensive. Such funding is needed both to preserve existing affordable housing and to acquire (and, in some cases, landbank) vacant or commercial land for subsequent housing production.
Preservation of existing affordable rental housing:
Many TRNs are dominated by renters rather than homeowners and one of the mechanisms by which gentrification occurs is through the turnover of rental units, accompanied by higher rents that only wealthier households can afford. Existing affordable rental housing in neighborhoods where transit is planned should be preserved, preferably well before the transit is operational. Preservation strategies should target both subsidized affordable housing (especially that in need of rehabilitation or subject to the expiration of affordability restrictions) and unsubsidized housing that has historically been affordable for neighborhood residents but is at risk of becoming unaffordable as market rents rise.
Production of affordable housing:
Increased production of affordable and workforce housing in TRNs can help slow the rate of rising rents and housing prices. Such housing can be built both as stand-alone residential projects and as part of mixed-income and mixed-use transit-oriented development projects.
Many of the policies in this section of the toolkit can be used for more than one of these purposes (for example, for either preservation or production) and can be combined to create comprehensive strategies for maintaining housing affordability in transit-rich neighborhoods.