Bipartisan Legislation Would Boost Federal Investment in Transit, Housing

April 16, 2021

Research shows that building affordable housing near transit lines boosts ridership, addresses climate change, and creates economic opportunity. Congressman Peters’ Build More Housing Near Transit Act will ensure people can afford to live where they work in accessible, equitable communities.

We thank organizations like Up For Growth and others for recognizing the need to improve this country’s housing shortage and affordability crisis, and for their long standing support of this crucial legislation.

Read more about the legislation in this April 14th release by Up For Growth, posted below:

Bipartisan Legislation Would Boost Federal Investment in Transit, Housing

April 14th, 2021

Up for Growth Action welcomed the reintroduction of the bipartisan Build More Housing Near Transit Act, sponsored by Reps. Scott Peters (D-CA) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA). First introduced in 2019, the legislation seeks to fulfill critical transit, housing, economic development, and environmental goals by spurring affordable and market-rate housing development near federally funded transit stations.

The bill incentivizes projects seeking money from the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA’s) Fixed Guideway Capital Investment Program—Section 5309 Grants—to evaluate the feasibility for housing development near transit during the application process. This important change would maximize federal investment in fixed-guideway transit by supporting the housing needs of transit- served neighborhoods nationwide.

109 organizations have joined Up for Growth Action to support and advocate for the Build More Housing Near Transit Act, introduced as H.R.2483.

“The Build More Housing Near Transit Act will help America build back better,” said Up for Growth Action Executive Director Mike Kingsella. “The legislation encourages localities to align land-use policies and affordable housing resources with federal transit investment, ensuring that transit-rich communities are accessible to more Americans. We applaud Representative Peters, Representative McMorris Rodgers, and bill co-sponsors for their continued leadership to advance smart and sensible federal housing and transit policy.”

Though Section 5309 Grant applicants currently evaluate land-use and housing policy as part of the application process, each factor is considered individually, leaving projects that receive $2.3 billion annually underdeveloped and underutilized. A holistic approach would ensure the potential for housing and economic development is scored accurately during the evaluation process and housing needs are properly prioritized. Under the Build More Housing Near Transit Act, project sponsors get bonus points if their local governments provide a commitment to enact land-use policies that support both affordable and market-rate housing needs associated with the transit investment.

Introduced in the 116th Congress as H.R. 4307, key elements of the Build More Housing Near Transit Act were incorporated into the Moving Forward Act, passed by the House in July 2020. While not specifically referenced in President Biden’s American Jobs Plan, then-candidate Biden pledged that “a portion of new federal transit dollars are designed to leverage local investment in both transit and affordable housing in transit corridors.” The American Jobs Plan does call for the creation of a new competitive housing policy grant program that appears similar to the one outlined in the Housing Supply and Affordability Act, which prioritizes transit-oriented housing development.

Joining Rep. Peters and McMorris Rodgers in introducing the Build More Housing Near Transit Act are Reps. Marilyn Strickland (D-WA), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), David Scott (D-GA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Tom Suozzi (D-NY), and Ami Bera (D-CA). In addition to Up for Growth Action, the Build More Housing Near Transit Act is supported by a wide range of national organizations including the American Planning Association, Congress for the New Urbanism, Habitat for Humanity International, Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), Mortgage Bankers Association, National Association of Home Builders, National Association of REALTORS®, National Housing Conference, National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC), and Prosperity Now.

What sponsors and stakeholders are saying:

“San Diego is one of many communities across the country facing a housing crisis. People struggle to find affordable housing and are often forced to live in areas that are far from work without access to public transit,” said Rep. Peters. “Our bill will maximize federal investment in transit and increase housing options for cost-burdened families. On top of that, it can augment our efforts to protect the environment by growing transit ridership and getting more cars off the road.”

“The nation’s housing crisis is also a crisis of economic opportunity and mobility. Effective planning that coordinates transit, housing, jobs, and land use is vital to tackling the challenge of housing affordability and availability. It ensures that our infrastructure investments provide the broadest and highest benefit,” said Leo R. Asuncion, President of the American Planning Association (a member of Up for Growth). “The Build More Housing Near Transit Act will promote federal transit infrastructure investments that increase mobility options and access to opportunity. The American Planning Association is proud to support this legislation as an important tool for the recovery and reinvention of our communities.”

“The Build More Housing Near Transit Act will make it easier to build the places people love,” said Lynn Richards, President and CEO of Congress for the New Urbanism (a member of Up for Growth). “Aligning federal transit investments with affordable and market-rate housing development will create the livable and sustainable communities desired by – but often inaccessible to – many Americans. We thank bill sponsors for developing innovative federal policy that will improve quality of life for people across the country.”



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