A study recently initiated in Prince George's County, the District of Columbia, and the City of Alexandria will assess the availability of affordable housing options near ten existing or planned transit stations where future development could cause home prices and rents to escalate.
Funded through the Transportation Planning Board's Transportation/ Land-Use Connections (TLC) program, the study will evaluate the risk of development pressures and rising property values permanently "pricing out" lower-income households in each of the selected station areas. It will also recommend strategies for maintaining the affordability of existing housing stock or opportunities for constructing new affordable housing units.
Three of the station areas being studied are on Metrorail's Green Line in Prince George's County: Prince George's Plaza, Suitland, and Branch Avenue. A fourth location being studied in Prince George's County is Langley Park, the site of a stop on the planned Purple Line between Bethesda and New Carrollton.
In the District, four stations were selected for the study: Georgia Avenue/ Petworth, Anacostia, and Congress Heights on the Green Line, and a planned streetcar stop at 8th Street and H Street NE. In the City of Alexandria, the study will analyze the Van Dorn Street station on Metrorail's Blue Line, as well as a future bus rapid transit station planned at the Mark Center.
Using local demographic and property information, the study will evaluate each station area's susceptibility to development, anticipated demographic changes, housing market trends, and existing supply of affordable housing in order to identify those station areas where strong housing demand is most likely to increase housing costs substantially within the next five years.
For three of the stations--one in each jurisdiction--detailed case studies will help identify specific opportunities to preserve, rehabilitate, or construct enough affordable housing stock to accommodate projected demand for housing for lower-income households. The case studies will include analysis of property-specific information on all housing units within a quarter- to half-mile radius of the transit station and will use employment projections, household composition forecasts, and any planned expansions of transit infrastructure to quantify the number and types of housing units that will be needed over the next five years.
When the study is complete in May 2012, the three jurisdictions in which it is taking place will be able to use the findings to identify priorities for future affordable housing investments. By providing more affordable housing options near transit, these local jurisdictions can continue to encourage transit-oriented development with less risk of lower-income households being permanently "priced out" of the neighborhoods with the best access to the regional public transit system.
Each year, the TLC program provides local jurisdictions with a range of technical assistance to identify small-scale transportation and land-use improvements that could help achieve the recommendations for compact, mixed-use development near transit that have emerged from more than a decade of the TPB's regional scenario planning. Past TLC projects have focused on transit station accessibility, mixed-use and transit-oriented development opportunities, pedestrian and bicycle planning, and streetscape design and corridor planning.
But there remains a pressing need to address a continuing challenge of concentrating growth near transit: ensuring that affordable housing options remain available to households with a range of incomes, especially lower-income households that often rely more heavily on public transit to get to jobs, schools, and healthcare services. This year's tri-jurisdictional assessment of the availability of affordable housing in ten of the region's developing transit station areas is the first of its kind since the TLC program began five years ago, and is a prime example of the kind of project the TLC program was designed to support.