Issue Background: Sustainable Communities & Transit-Oriented Development
Sustainable community development refers to planning and building activities that address social equity, environmental stewardship and economic development. This long-term and holistic approach is crucial to the efficient allocation of resources for housing, infrastructure, public transportation and supportive services. Sustainability does not refer to a set of prescriptive development and policy choices. Rather, it is a framework for making decisions that reflect the unique characteristics, challenges and opportunities of a given geographical area. Well-planned development can yield numerous benefits for households, including lower utility and transportation costs, better health outcomes and increased access to employment and other resources. Communities can also benefit from lower infrastructure costs, additional economic development and increased tax revenue.
Transit-oriented development (TOD) is an important component of sustainable development. The interrelated costs of housing and transportation are the two largest expenses for many households. Communities closely connected to a broad range of services, retail options and employment opportunities are often associated with higher housing costs. Households can be faced with a choice of paying an unaffordable amount for housing in such communities or living further away and commuting into opportunity-rich areas. In the later scenario, the savings in housing costs can be negated by the increased costs of transportation.
Communities can promote social equity by expanding public transportation access to underserved low- and moderate-income communities and investing in the preservation and/or construction of affordable housing near transit. The preservation of affordable housing is particularly crucial to prevent the displacement and increased cost burden that sometimes result from increases in property values in new transit corridors.
Enterprise supports sustainability through its Enterprise Green Communities initiative and its TOD-related activities. Green Communities provides resources for developers and communities to build well-located green affordable homes. Enterprise’s TOD work includes financing, research and policy advocacy. Enterprise is a lead partner in Mile High Connects, which will create or preserve at least 1,000 affordable homes along current and future transit corridors in the city, and is involved in TOD-financing activities in other cities throughout the country.
Current Policy State
In 2015, Enterprise published a report laying out specific recommendations for state and local policymakers to overcome these barriers. These recommendations include:
While most policy decisions related to eTOD are made at the state, regional or local level, the federal government also plays an important role. For example, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) supports local transit capital projects through the Capital Investment Grant program. In 2013, the FTA adopted a new evaluation framework that creates incentives for a range of transit-supportive elements, including affordable housing. We urge the FTA and other federal agencies to pursue further ways to better integrate local housing needs into any federally-supported transit project.
Publications and Resources
- Enterprise Research: Promoting Opportunity through Equitable TOD
- Enterprise Policy Focus Issue Brief: New Starts: Leveraging the New Transit Policy Guidance to Create Inclusive Communities of Opportunity
- For the latest sustainability and transit-oriented development news, read the @the Horizon blog’s TOD and sustainability sections.
- For the latest federal program funding levels, visit the Enterprise Budget and Appropriations webpage.
- Enterprise Green Building, Energy Efficiency and Healthy Homes webpage
- Enterprise Green Communities webpage
Enterprise Statements, Testimony and Public Comment
Public Comments to FTA on Coordinating Affordable Housing, Community Development and Public Transportation Investments
- On May 8, 2015 Enterprise submitted comments to the proposed interim policy guidance for the Major Capital Investment Grant program.
- Enterprise, Partners Submit Comments Expressing Support for TOD Research and Technical Assistance (October 2014)
- Enterprise Submits Comments on Metropolitan Planning Process (Aug. 2014)
- Comments to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) on its Proposed Circular on Joint Development, from Enterprise and the National Housing Conference (April 5)
- Joint Comment Letter to the FTA on its Major Capital Investment Projects Program, submitted by Enterprise and several partners. The comments express support for regulatory changes that promote transit-oriented affordable housing, and provide detailed implementation recommendations. Enterprise also signed onto a comment letter with members of the Equity Caucus on the same subject. (March 2013)
- Joint Letter Urging FTA to Incorporate Application Criteria for the TOD Planning Pilot Program that would help stimulate equitable development near transit from Enterprise, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the Low-Income Investment Fund, the National Housing Conference, Reconnecting America, Smart Growth America, Center for Neighborhood Technology, LOCUS, and Transportation from America (September 2012)
- Joint Letter Supporting Timely Implementation of Community Development Related Provisions in Proposed Rule from Enterprise, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the Low Income Investment Fund, the National Housing Conference, Reconnecting America and Smart Growth America (August 2012)
- Enterprise comments on New Starts/Small Starts Proposed Rule and Policy Guidance (March 2012)
- Green Affordable Housing Coalition comments on New Starts/Small Starts Proposed Rule and Policy Guidance (March 2012)
- Joint comments on New Starts/Small Starts Policy Guidance from Enterprise, Habitat for Humanity, LISC and the National Housing Conference (March 2012)
- Joint comments on New Starts/Small Starts Proposed Rule from broad stakeholder coalition (March 2012)
- Enterprise public comments on FTA's Proposed Environmental Justice Circular (December 2011)
- Joint public comments on FTA Regulatory Review (Docket Number: DOT-OST-2011-0025) from Enterprise and the National Housing Conference (April 2011)
- Joint public comment on New Starts/Small Starts Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking from Enterprise, Habitat for Humanity Internationaland the National Housing Conference(August 2010)
Additional Sustainable Communities/Transit-Oriented Development-Related Statements, Testimony and Public Comment
- On March 14, 2011 Enterprise Senior Director, Public Policy & Government Affairs Peter Lawrence provided public comment on the application rating factors for the HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant program.
- March 10, 2010, Vice President, Public Policy and Government Relations Adrienne Quinn provided comments on the Sustainable Communities Planning Grant Advance Notice and Request for Comments
- On July 28, Vice President, Public Policy and Government Relations Adrienne Quinn provided a letter of support for the Livable Communities Act (S. 1619) in advance of the August 3 Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee markup.